#123 Red Willow by Joshua K. Concha

So…did they really turn this village into a ghost?
Most days more visitors than living in the empty turtle shell
and swallows are flying low between Huakwema towards
Huama today, predictors of heavy
wet grey anvils that widen high, that we need
more than four cardinal directions to orient ourselves.
Where no one gives thanks for just one day,
a little piece everyday makes all the difference
in getting to the lake with flowers
in the greatest meadow
created for charm.

There used to be huge cottonwoods,
right by the Pueblo at the end of Veterans Highway,
around the old granary where summer shade was vast.
Now featured at the end of that paved corridor:
as much a bombed out structure
as any in Iraq, one small building in ruin
as traffic monitors spray down the fine sifted soil,
rake through ragweed
their motions smooth parallels
of leg and tool and arm.

Ceremony comes into the wheel when
quiet-time means nothing, doing
nothing at all, not even a little piece,
but a peace makes its way to the sleeping
earth needs no disturbance, no thanks.
The saw-horse whinnies, “The village
is closed!” to our cars.
But you can walk in quietly—
you must keep warm.

Rio Pueblo yawned its icy jaw wide—
awake. Red Willow sheds gray to green
and sisters with mothers ululate
quivering sounds of strength along
loins of sun and moon in a race.
It is the world’s heritage that
both make it across the track
to come back in a dance.

Joshua K. Concha lives and works at Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. He earned a Bachelor of University Studies degree from UNM in 2011. Focusing on English and Psychology, he graduated summa cum laude. He enjoys making jewelry, sculpture, watercolor, writing, and playing guitar.


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