#132 EXT. SHIPROCK, NM HIGHWAY – DAY by Sara Marie Ortiz

The cat’s face, still curvature of gray face and eyes, still held such possibility; I leaned in closely
shutting and then opening my eyes to its blood-matted gray and red jumble of flesh and fur,
rib cage poking out, lighted by a midday Shiprock sun and the glint of asphalt underneath and all
around. I shut my eyes after leaning in close, cupping my hands, to mouth, eyes, throat, trying to
breathe around the smell of the thing, breathing finally and deeply into the cup of my hands
knowing and not knowing what world was contained there.

Even subtle light is light.
Even that from the cobalt and milky glass lamps hanging above my head.
Even while asphyxiating quietly.
Even while at Starbucks.
Even then.
Even subtle awful light is light.
Even if you’ve not the eyes or heart or breath for it anymore.

Even then.
The truest terror of this, the most awful beautiful thing I’ve encountered thus far in this space: I
brought a girl child into the burning and breaking world and, no matter how many times I see her
with my own eyes, I still don’t know if she exists.
It seems that the dreams I dream and fail to remember are the realest and most vivid, as they exist

mostly at the periphery, and I know that (for the most part) this is where I live.

A holy map.

I cannot rightly tell you, in dreams, and vis-à-vis a waking insomnia, that did manifest as some

sort of lifelike thing, how many times I drank, and deeply, from the cupped brown hands of

crying women. My arms were broken. I missed home. And I was so fucking thirsty. What better

three reasons are there for drinking from the cupped hands of crying women?

An Acoma Pueblo memoirist, poet, scholar, documentary filmmaker, and Indigenous peoples advocate, Sara is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts creative writing program and holds an MFA in creative writing, with a concentration in creative nonfiction, from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She lives in Seattle, WA and Santa Fe.


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