Navajo Barbecue by Laurie Bower

The heat will be almost unbearable later on
but on this warm spring day at the Simms Ranch
near Chaco Canyon – and nothing else…
Navajo ranchers have gathered
Neighbors of a vast, wide open sort
encompassing seven sections of land the white man didn’t want
until coal and uranium were discovered
but never mind that
Today we dine on a tender beef brisket
smoked to perfection by Justin Yazzie
who stayed up most of the night before, tending the smoker
We eat the liver – sacred organ of the lamb
Eaten first in reverence and gratitude
for its vital role in keeping her healthy
The small intestine is a delicacy
It looks like the old spiraled telephone cords
(and sort of tastes like one!)
Often it is served wrapped around the large intestine for a real treat
The duodenum looks like a sponge, with a honeycombed exterior
“It’s a designer change purse,”  a ranchwoman tells me –
“best fried, like calamari!
These ranchers work small herds of cattle on large arid tracts of land
on nothing but a lease – and faith – and necessity…
They defy my understanding of what is possible
Their life must be so hard, I think
And yet, there is lightness in their laugher, a sparkle in their eyes
And both strength and warmth emanate from their extended hands
A noticeable lack of judgment fills the air – and frees my soul
Beautiful people
Feels like Home

 

Laurie Bower is currently best known as an unknown poet, homesteading and pioneering in the hinterlands of New Mexico and beyond.  Her work in sustainable agriculture and with Native Americans, along with a love of the natural world, has provided a source of inspiration for many of her poems. thepoetlaurie@hotmail.com

 


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