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Simon Joseph Ortiz (1941-)

Four Poems for a Child Son
December 18, 1972


WHATS YOUR INDIAN NAME?

              1It has to do with full moments
              2of mountains, deserts, sun, gods,
              3song, completeness.

              4It has to do with stories, legends
              5full of heroes and traveling.

              6It has to do with rebirth and growing
              7and being strong and seeing.

              8You see it's like this (the movement):
              9go to the water
            10and gather the straight willow stems
            11bring them home
            12work carefully at forming them
            13tie on the feathers
            14paint them with the earth
            15feed them and talk with them
            16pray.

            17You see, son, the eagle is a whole person
            18the way it lives; it means it has to do
            19with paying attention to where it is,
            20not the center of the earth especially
            21but part of it, one part among all parts,
            22and that's only the beginning.

IT WAS THE THIRD DAY, JULY 12 , 1971

              1Hitchhiking on the way to Colorado,
              2I heard your voice, "Look, Dad..."
              3                   A hawk
              4sweeping its wings
              5                           clear

              6through the whole sky

              7                           the blue
              8                           the slow wind
              9fresh with the smell of summer alfafa
            10at the foot of the Jemez Mountains.

            11(You see, the gods come during the summer
            12for four days amongst the people,
            13bring gifts, bring hope and life,
            14you can see them, I mean.)

            15Waiting for my next ride,
            16I sang,
            17          Look, the plants with bells.
            18          Look, the stones with voices.

YESTERDAY

              1In the late afternoon,
              2there was suddenly a noise of birds
              3filling up everything.

              4This morning in the newspaper,
              5I read about starlings at the Air Force base.

              6I guess they were but all I knew yesterday
              7was that they filled up the trees,
              8the utility wires, the sky, the world.

              9That's all I know.

WHAT MY UNCLE TONY TOLD MY SISTER AND ME

              1Respect your mother and father.
              2Respect your brothers and sisters.
              3Respect your uncles and aunts.
              4Respect your land, the beginning.
              5Respect what is taught you.
              6Respect what you are named.
              7Respect the gods.
              8Respect yourself.
              9Everything that is around you
            10is part of you.

Notes

17] The poet and his son Raho Nez belong to the Eagle clan of the Acoma Pueblo people.

10] Jemez Mountains: Southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains in New Mexcio.


Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Ortiz, Simon J. Woven Stone. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1992: 45-47.
Publication date note: Ortiz, Simon J. Going for the Rain. New York: Harper and Row, 1976: 7-9.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/6/21


Other poems by Simon Joseph Ortiz