#101 The Holdout by Sheila Cowing

When old Pauline Whitesinger wakes before dawn,
steps outside her hogan into the desert,
makes a white corn pollen offering
and prays to the rising sun, wind blows hard
this winter of no snow. Younger, she herded
her sheep in a long blue velveteen skirt,
the sun engraved her face. This yellow grass
belongs now by decree to the Hopi, who, eager
to mine coal deposits, are forcing Navajos out,
a Second Long Walk. They call her a resistor;
her well is capped, blades removed from the wind mill.
Men with bulldozers tried to fence land where her sheep
graze, each night she undid their work. She said
nothing, whittled a long sharp stick the afternoon
a ranger demanded her agreement.

Sheila Cowing earned her MFA after raising three daughters. Six years the editor of a national children’s literary magazine, she’s also been a landscaper and a book salesperson. She’s published two collections of poetry, Stronger in the Broken Places and Jackrabbit Highways. She’s also written essays and nonfiction for children.


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