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Spring/Summer 2007, Volume 23.3

Poetry

Tom JonesPhoto of Tom Jones.


Tom Jones is a graduate of Harvard University (BA, 1965), Columbia University School of Law (JD, 1968), and George Mason University (MFA, 1992). He has studied language and literature at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, the University of Madrid, and the Goethe Institute. He has published seven collections of poems. His poems have appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies, including The Nation, The New Republic and The Yale Review. He has also published translations of the late Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez and Dominican Republic poet Rei Berroa. He worked and translated for many years as an international human rights lawyer, serving as Washington representative of Amnesty International USA from 1972 to 1979. Currently he teaches writing workshops and reads his work at festivals throughout the west.

 

Stone Mirror

Deeper into Pasture Canyon we ride,
the greener—families planting their fields,
lush from hundreds of floods, with melons, corn,
squash, beans—islands of fresh, cool, nighttime air
await us, saved in canyon-center shade
where creek rock tones re-echo by the trail

We coax our horses across the stream-song
before clambering up steep dunes and rock
exploring where two Navajo horsemen
have never ventured, rewarded finding
a stone mirror reflecting the light-dance
of sun rays playing clear, secret waters
of a hidden source, deep green oasis,
the wonder of a spring-fed desert pool
where we surprise Grandfather Coyote
who trots behind a bush trying to hide,
Old Man Coyote staring back at us,
waiting for us to leave his swimming hole

 

Hopi Dawn: The Mother Corn

—For Percy and Terry Piestewa


Kept twenty days in dark rooms, the newborn
baby will receive the gift of his name
in the Hopi Naming Ceremony
greeting Dawa the Sungod at sunrise
after he is washed with yucca root soap
by Grandmother and Aunts, tradition’s way,
and blessed with touches of the Mother Corn

this ancient Hopi birth celebration
on a blissfully warm April morning,
black-haired angel already a warrior,
hearing his name spoken for the first time,
"Standing Bear" in Hopi meets Dawa, "Sun,"
forever protected by Mother Corn,
the sacred grace of Dawa’s bathing rays

 

Beauty Way—Harmony: Navajoland

Navajos voice corn pollen blessing songs,
spring green sun washing White Mesa’s faces,
plum reds, lilacs, lavenders of false dawn
brighten to turquoise blue sunflower light

there is no passive watching the sunrise
for elders, but passionate encounters
with sun spirits who recognize your face
if you are running at dawn—a warrior

Shimásání includes us in her prayers—
Christmas in her hooghan, this gift, her words:
"You are from here—that’s how I think of you."
Poetry deep in the Diné—I learn

first Navajo words: nizhóní, hózhó

 

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