A Thanksgiving Poem from the Conquered

A Thanksgiving Poem from the Conquered:
Kopis'taya (A Gathering of Spirits)
by Pueblo and Sioux writer Paula Gunn Allen

Because we live in the browning season
the heavy air blocking our breath,
and in this time when living
is only survival, we doubt the voices
that come shadowed on the air,
that weave within our brains
certain thoughts, a motion that is soft,
imperceptible, a twilight rain,
soft feather's fall, a small body dropping
into its next, rustling, murmuring, settling
in for the night.

Because we live in the hardedged season
where plastic brittle and gleaming shine,
and in this space that is cornered and angled,
we do not notice wet, moist, the significant
drops falling in perfect spheres that are certain measures
of our minds;
almost invisible, those tears,
soft as dew, fragile, that cling to leaves,
petals, roots, gentle and sure,
every morning.

We are the women of the daylight, of clocks
and steel foundries, of drugstores
and streetlights, of superhighways
that slice our days in two. Wrapped around
in plastic and steel we ride our lives;
behind dark glasses we hide our eyes;
our thoughts, shaded, seem obscure.
Smoke fills our minds, whiskey husks our songs,
polyester cuts our bodies from our breath,
our feet from the welcoming stones of earth.
Our dreams are pale memories of themselves
and nagging doubt is the false measure
of our days.

Even so, the spirit voices are singing,
their thoughts are dancing in the dirty air.
Their feet touch the cement, the asphalt
delighting, still they weave dreams upon our
shadowed skulls, if we could listen.
If we could hear.

Let's go then. Let's find them.
Let's listen for the water, the careful
gleaming drops that glisten on the leaves,
the flowers. Let's ride
the midnight, the early dawn.
Feel the wind striding though our hair.
Let's dance the dance of feathers,
the dance of birds.