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  • Gone, and: Sustainability: A Romance in Four Scenes
  • Esther Belin (bio)



To the reservationtoday, left a basketfull, carrying a basketcarrying the ochresand residuethin barbs of windburnt umber willow marring mypolished nails.

Gonelike the reservation today,goneas inthe "gooder days shoulda beenbetter"thanambidextrous textselapsingourtimelinear bullet pointsand boldprintlike early morningphlegmtingedburnt umberthen gone.Our basket empty again. [End Page 20]


We've been traveling so long on this highwayWe forget our image in the Route 66 rock and mineral stoneWe forget our language in the static of radio wavesWe forget why we travel, the Pueblo feast days are tourist pit stopscarnival vendors woven into the millennium manta

This highway—so long, has been traveledThe rock and minerals become our imageThe static in our language transmits like a radio signalThe usual pit stops are touristy, flooded like arroyos duringmonsoon season, the Shiprock Fair during election year


In one breath I try to say all that has been said in the last 500 years, Idon't want to go back any further, I don't want to think back any more, Iwant to spread my four treasures across the page like a belly dancer,moving between light and shadow, exposing all the necessary parts.


There was never a sound beside the smoke but from itA weeping being whispered into the groundWhat was it? it whisperedI could tell you it was chants we use in ceremoniesI could tell you it was the truths my father cursed when he was drunkI could tell you there is no translation      no words exist for that whisper.Perhaps all these thoughts are correct, crystal as the cracks in the windshield,Tearful as the soccer mom that sits in her SUV, pondering the latest USDA-approvedprescription drug.Something, perhaps aboutpossibilities in situationsthat lead to the multiple choice responses/answersor silences/void.The weeping hangs like the hind legs of a slaughtered goat, [End Page 21] and whispers droplets of bloodthickdraining from the headless animalsplattered on the ground.

Sustainability: A Romance in Four Scenes

Scene 1

Of course I love my language. The haughty English phrases I uselike a real urban Indian. Not the mythic ones in novels. I am onewho loves the language. Moments of nihizaad squashed in myblue jeans back pocket. I love to unfold it gently and tell you how

Indian I am. It was a summer romance that started it all. A woodenspoon from the Chinle flea market. A tentless night among the starsin the Chuska Mountains. I was an eager apprentice, the west coastmoisture still supple, padding my fingertips as I read this new landscape.

The Diné man. The ginger touch weaving patchworked love. He must havefelt the loveliness in walking our homeland together. My fascination inred ant hills, red sandstone canyons, red chi sustained in our bodies.His lean fingers were tipped with pink shell, carving the tiny star

shapes I speak. That summer we tangled in nihizaad rimmed witha salty crust, preserved in our damp canyon. The pressure in our breathsustained. Red dust and fingerprints remain of the summer I declinedto walk one direction, footprints side by side on a rainbow path.

Scene 2

We redefined Indian. We took hold of the ocean and its glimmering surface.The Los Angeles ladder to relocation led to an exiled island. I was a child on [End Page 22] a swing in the playground, praying. The sacred L.A. mountains to the northdetracted from the cave dwellers living on the crags of broken ground.

The prayer redefined the recipe. No longer a stripe of softened scar tissuesealing my womb. Rather it ruminates, a glistening gulley, guiding, gushing in son.A metered tug to and fro in accordance with mirrored blood, flowing, adapting the song.The water in my womb, that sustenance formed the soil on my tongue, soiling,

salting to'dichee'nii, the water I...


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