Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Say it again
When i was a little girl, i would go into my parents room and look at all their books. they had history books, biographies, law books, books about coyote and of the course, the coveted cosmopolitan magazine...i dont really know whether or not we were supposed to look at any of these but it always felt like a secret to climb those stairs and look at those books. when i was a young girl, i was a voracious reader. and i liked to write even then but thought i had no story. i never thought about becoming a writer, i only thought about being a lawyer or a famous singer so i could be on solid gold and hee-haw. but i never saw any nerdy little indian girls with glasses on solid gold. one day when i went to read the books i flipped through a book called Thats What She Said. Its a compilation of fiction and poetry by a variety of american indian women writers. i flipped through (because there were pictures!). I saw a picture of a woman i knew as my auntie and she was wearing a ribbon shirt my mom had made. so i started to check out her section. and this one moment, one poem told me who i would become for the rest of my life. When I Cut My Hair when i cut my hair at thirty-five Grandma said she'd forgive me for cutting it but I cried out everytime I touched my head years from then and Grandma dead it came back to me last night when you said you wanted it all your rich body grounding me safe the touch of your hair took me out I saw pigeon feathers red wool and fur and it wrapped me with the startled past so sudden your hair falling all around us I touched center and forgave myself. Rayna Green As with many of the people in my young life i was surrounded with people who to me were aunties, uncles, grandmas and grandpas....to you they are authors, activists, movie stars and history makers. and for them i am eternally grateful. My auntie rayna is a legendary story teller with her slow southern drawl and big loud laugh.... i knew much later in life that poetry matches us, it becomes us and we become it. when i read this piece, i identified so strongly with its meaning that i knew then that i would be a writer, a story teller, a keeper of history and ride whatever river words would provide me. i was 11. here i am at 35. i didnt come back to that book until college, only after realizing that all of the women whose stories i admired were also in Thats What She Said. In college I studied Erdrich, Tallmountain, Allen, Witt, Hogan and Harjo. All of the women in my auntie's book whose voices had whispered to me until i was old enough to hear them. but her voice was first... her name is eaglewoman her voice is endless.