Mother Church #3

Robin Coste-Lewis

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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.