Rusty Tones

Vanessa Racehorse

Speaking of things that sustain 

I used to tuck lumps of clay under my tongue for nourishment and for the taste

The taste of red earth, the taste of rainstorms that bring new life and fill your breath with gourmet earth

Maybe kids who do this crave something in their blood

We craved it from the very stems of our cells through our sun-kissed skin

our infinitely outstretched palms seeking the warmth and color radiating down

and bare feet rooted to the ground, squirming into dirt, running just across the surface to our brothers

and sisters, friends formed just a second ago.


Speaking of things that sustain

At dusk we set the mountains on fire

The brown bedrock speckled with green ponderosa decides to make a life change, to open a new chapter

to make an absolute scene as it closes this one

Shadows sweep across the periphery as terra cotta creeps in

The wine colored sky collides with the shifting ridges below and ebbs into the melting blues above

Sometimes the clouds lend to glimpses of other shades 

Shades stolen from exotic fruit that wouldn’t otherwise grace the underlying desert floor

There’s an afterglow that pairs perfectly with the pockets of adobe 

If you stepped back into the mesa and took it all in 

you might think someone planned it perfectly just for you

Because sometimes you need to feel as if perhaps maybe somewhere someone would gather

something that pure. Just For You. 

Vanessa Racehorse is a Shoshone-Bannock, Cherokee, and Paiute woman born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Denver and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. She writes prolifically about her attachment to New Mexico, social justice issues, and the people and experiences that have helped forge her identity. 



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