Lake Valley: A Poem by Santana Shorty

Brown sand with grass
Photo by Brie Odom-Mabey on Unsplash

Lake Valley

At the end of the road, there is a gate 

It is an old gate 

The kind that takes two arms to pull  

Common rez courtesy means the passenger opens the gate 

while the driver passes through 

The mud ruts make everything hard 

An abandoned one room house keeps guard at the gate 

Someone told me once a family of five lived there 

I don’t know if it’s true, but it could be 

There is a thrum in the ground 

Petrified wood scatters with pottery shards 

The wind carries small porous pebbles of ancient lava 

In the distance, I see a group of wild horses 

The days of taming them are gone 

The road has alternate paths forward 

A way cut through when the rains came 

At the end of the road is the house, hogan, and corral 

A lonely tornado ruined the house long ago 

someone told me 

Many people once came here for ceremony 

My grandfather sat at the head of the hogan 

A circle of us sat along the wall 

Tobacco smoke holding the room, keeping us warm 

There was blue corn mush and elk meat with piñon  

There was tea in a pail  

There was sweet corn and canned fruit 

I used to pick out the cherries for myself 

The thrum tenderized the ground 

The drum pulled the room inward to the fireplace 

A song carried out the chimney, ribboned with wind 

that finds me here today, years later 

opening a gate for ghosts to pass through 

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