Eight years before the twin towers, Shinali,
my father’s most beloved, my grandmother,
looked at me but could never speak to me.
Even at eight, I was separated from her by a linguistic chasm.
But, I remember her sun brown hands.
dusty dirt floor
Dingy and dark, a cot, a few pans, and the fire place.
It was beyond modest
But, even while I have the world at my finger tips:
a slew of human souls picked and parceled into faceless words, frozen smiles,
I remember her home the best.
Without painting or photograph or words to remind me,
I know her dining room table smelled of pine needles,
unbound by walls or windows,
nestled in the shadow of a tree whose bark smoothed the wrinkles in her face.
Whose roots betrayed the brevity of a century.
Her tree, where the wind murmured musics;
a gentle prodding to fill the fickle robin with song.
Her steadfast heart needed no urging to beat the drum.
She was royality.
Richer even than the other Navajos,
the ones living below the mountain where the wind settled the dust but never the rain.
Ida wanted to die in her kingdom,
by her tree, in her home, with the sun, and the pines, and the wind.
But we wanted her,
we took her for a few more years of life,
to a nursing home, a forgotten flock of skeletons to replace her goats.
They, brain dead but left alive because of their still bleating hearts.
We loved her and left her with them,
They who were told to pick at life’s strands until their fingers were nail-less, bloodless stumps.
We never wanted to let her go.
She loved us,
but in those last few months she wanted to go home.