Hen Wives, Spinsters, and Lolly Willowes
On St. Valentine's Day

At the gates of dawn

Winter gate

Before this world existed, the holy people made themselves visible
by becoming clouds, sun, moon, trees, bodies of water, thunder
rain, snow, and other aspects of this world we live in. That way,
they said, we would never be alone. So it is possible to talk to them
and pray, no matter where we are and how we feel. Biyázhí daniidlí,
we are their little ones.

Since the beginning, the people have gone outdoors at dawn to pray,
The morning light, adinídíín, represents knowledge and mental awareness.
With the dawn come the holy ones who bring blessings and daily gifts,
because they are grateful when we remember them.

When you were born and took your first breath, different colors
and different kinds of wind entered through your fingertips
and the whorl on top of your head. Within us, as we breathe,
are the light breezes that cool a summer afternoon,
within us the tumbling winds that precede rain,
within us sheets of hard-thundering rain,
within us dust-filled layers of wind that sweep in from the mountains,
within us gentle night flutters that lull us to sleep.
To see this, blow on your hand now.
Each sound we make evokes the power of these winds
and we are, at once, gentle and powerful.

- Luci Tapahonso

(from "Sháá Áko Dahjiníeh: Remember They Things They Told Us,"
published in Saánii Dahataal: The Women are Singing, University of Arizona Press)

Tapahonso is the Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation, whose lands spread across Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. You can read a lovely interview with her here.

Winter gate 3Photographs: Woodland gate, early morning; and Tilly with a snowflake on her brow. Gentle and powerful.