KIN KLETSO/YELLOW HOUSE
CHACO CANYON, SAN JUAN COUNTY, NEW MEXICO
ANASAZI RUINS, AD 1125-1130
For Henri, at 2
You step down into the Flat World
Then ask me to say it, to explain
How our name can mean both ancestor
And enemy. Your body begins in four directions.
Here, one calendar takes eighteen years.
I am three. One day is an eyelash.
Your body is a segment of prehistoric road,
A buried stairwell with only the top stair obvious.
We are alluvial, obsidian.
Sometimes the ground swells
With disappointment; sometimes we know our mountains
Will be renamed after foreign saints.
We sing nine-hundred-year-old hymns
That instruct us in how to sit still
For forty-nine years
Through a fifty-year drought.
We climb down through the hole anyway,
And agree to the arrangement.
"Mother Church No. 3" from VOYAGE OF THE SABLE VENUS: AND OTHER POEMS by Robin Coste Lewis, copyright © 2015 by Robin Coste Lewis.
Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.