Caught on razor’s edge of my life
I was born on ‘Algonquian’ land in a white man’s Chicago hospital
three hundred years after my European ancestors began their pirating,
at thirteen I chose a beautiful boarding school built
on The land where Great Spirit dwells in ‘Mesquakie’s’ story,
and set at the foot of the prehistoric ‘Mound’ built
by an people in 100 AD we named the ‘Mound Builders’,
before Europeans signed titles to land
no one should claim to own,
but we never speak of that.
Much like early pioneers running for freedom to California,
I finally fled from the noise of urban chaos
arriving on land cared for by the ‘Miwok’, a whole people nearly erased.
Nature choked by asphalt and lies that didn’t speak
the language of the land won from Mexico, could
no longer stave off our hunger for the gold and green and ocean
that no one should dare to say is theirs,
but we never put that in our history books.
Now I live on land taken by Mexico from ‘Seri’ and ‘Yaqui’ peoples,
each day I sit at the foot of their sacred mountain
where once their warriors went to rebuild the inner fire to fight
another battle for their homeland from our European ancestors,
only to be run off later by Mexican powers, with plans to develop
and rename as tourist attractions the land and sea
that only fools would say they own,
but those histories are not written on the legal papers.
How can I be grateful and ashamed at the same time?
How can I live in this house built with Mexican sweat and cement?
How can I pay so little in gringo dollars for ‘Yaqui’ made hot tamales
standing in line right behind my neighbor who pays so much more?
How can I speak without shame as I turn to the ancestors to say,,
On this Thanksgiving Day I give thanks for all the riches my people took?
And yet, my gratitude for this place lives and pumps in my blood,
sings in the array of flavors that feed my body and my poems.
I wear my shame for my people who keep taking other people’s land,
that no one has the right to own,
when will we white victors concede the deep and shameful truths?
Sharon Lopez Mooney, Caught on razon’s edge of my life, From: Ginosko Literary Journal, Issue #26, Ed. Robert Paul Cesaretti, Fairfax, CA, Spring 2021, print and online: http://ginoskoliteraryjournal.com/images/ginosko26.pdf