Laura Tohe


The sun rises to the earth’s surface again
bright as an abalone shell
that hangs on the neck of the new morning
for the Hohokam

Water is their prayer
that greets the day
that makes the clouds
pregnant with rain children
and greases the wings of the cicadas
sitting under the thick veil of the summer monsoons

Gratitude is their prayer
that rises with each breath
for water that undulates
among fields of cotton
it is water’s twin that appears on the red faces of the pottery

Cotton, beans, squash
are like the bison roaming the warm fields
inside two seasons
offering themselves to the people
so that it continues
to dress the naked drum of the earth green

Once they followed the map of stars
that still lies in their memory
to seek salt and gather rainbow-colored feathers
in a thick land where clouds shed their skin
where mountains and temples were made of stone and blood
and a game of fate that broke open the path toward life or death
and caused them to flee north again

They returned once again to pull down the clouds
that would build their city
that undulates beneath glass and cement
that carved this valley
to contain their spirits
. . . they are all around