We are Born Hungry: poet Tanaya Wilder

from her book WORDS TO LOVE BY...

Being

 
Wake up, greet the sun, and pray.
Burn cedar, sweet grass, sage—
sacred herbs to honor the lives we’ve been given,
for we have been gifted these ways since the beginning of time.
Remember, when you step into the arena of your life,
think about those who stand beside you, next to, and with you.
Your ancestors are always in your corner, along with your people.
When we enter this world we are born hungry,
our spirits long for us to live out our traditions
that have been passed down for generations.
Prayer, ceremony, dance, language—our ways of being.
Never forget you were put on this earth for a reason—
honor your ancestors.
Be a good relative.

I received this valentine (book) from a friend

And I wonder where you are

 
Sacred stars blanket a nighttime sky,
each light reminds us of the preciousness of life.
Your memory lives along the Milky Way,
each twinkle saying don’t forget my name.

It’s an epidemic, a sickness of the earth,
a war we enter as soon as we are birthed.
Indigenous women, girls, our two-spirit, too.

When did this world start disappearing you?

 

Missing More Than a Word

 
Someone once asked me, what are the words I do not yet have — 
....    
....    
....    

verbs that will story our bodies into something more
than missing, more than squaw or lost, beyond statistics:
1 in 3 Native women will be raped in her lifetime.

Daily ritual: my hands search and sift through layers
of tiny earthquakes, shifted verdicts not guilty not enough
evidence not prosecutable not our jurisdiction I dig.
Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted
compared to all other races.

I dig. We are vanishing lines in history books, treaties;
laws do not protect us. I dig until mud and earth find home
underneath my fingernails. I’ll plant something new
in the absence burn vanish underreport

Invisible, our ghosts starve, while the rest of the world keeps on eating.
A recent government study found that there were 14 federal human
trafficking investigations in Indian Country between 2013 and
2016. During that same period the FBI investigated 6,100
elsewhere.

Let us poem a place where you cannot erase us into white space.
....    
....    
....    

Let us dig to remind ourselves our roots are ancestral
and there is nothing deeper
than these sacred, dirt-covered hands.
 
Source: Poetry (June 2018)

 

Tanaya Winder

Poet, writer, and educator Tanaya Winder is an enrolled member of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe and has ancestors from the Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, Navajo, and Black tribes.

In an interview with Zingara Poetry Review, Winder notes, “I am a person who hopes my own writing and poetry reflects the times and the needs of society; without interacting with the community the poetry cannot attempt to reflect communities and so I believe poetry must intersect with community. Poetry has the potential to create community for people who are searching for it by providing a space to interact and share experiences on the page.”

Winder cofounded As/Us, an online journal devoted to writers of color; cofounded the traveling exhibit Sing Our Rivers Red to raise awareness of missing and murdered indigenous women; and founded Dream Warriors Management, a company that manages indigenous artists. The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development named her one of “40 Under 40” emerging American Indian leaders, and she was a 2017 First Peoples Fund Artists in Business Leadership fellow.

 

💓I hope that LOVE surrounds all of you, and you hear the LOVE in your soul calling to you, thanking you... This month I am reading two history books, short stories and prose... for me poetry feeds the soul... we are born hungry and we must devour good words to fill that emptiness... xoxox Trace

 

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