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Women play a very important role in the life of the Native American. Their strength has and always will be essential to the survival of the tribes. To commemorate Native American Heritage Month BASTARD fanzine pays tribute to the beauty, struggle and responsibility of the Native woman.

 


BEING by Tazbah Rose Chavez


 

The dirt between my toes was soft as I dug my feet into the earth floor
breathing into the skin beneath my mother’s breast to bare the sweat rock heat

It was here I learned to be

Against the opposite of concrete, underneath her shirt, cheek against the sweat
dripping down the skin of the woman who bore me
from a long line of women who dodged bullets for me
from a blood line that took long walks across mesas and the valleys for me
from the seeds of men who shed flesh in defense of me

I’m from the earth where its green between mountain peaks and clean streams
and as much as I’d like to believe this is all that I’ve seen
the truth is, I’m from a dirt driveway on a dead end street

I come wishes on the loveseat, nose and breath against the window screen,
waiting for a pair of headlights to understand me because nothing grew here,
just dreams

I remember crawling with you under the barbwire fence to lay on the grass, as ants crawled beneath our backs

The sun told stories through the trees about who we’d like to be, but it didn’t occur to eight year old you or me that who you want to be is a lot more than just being
I saw you once again at eighteen, through the cracks in the clouds where that silvery gold light beamed
you were covered knee high in dirt but your skirt, it blew in the breeze like it knew your purpose

I lied face and belly down so the earth could coax my metronome back to her beginning
So our heartbeats could sync, so my body could remember Her land has more cuts and bruises, more life and is more fluid than what I tell myself I have endured

That day I stood up
barefoot for us both on the gravel of our pursuit
My umbilical chord is buried in the yard somewhere, grounding me to remember my hurt is extraterrestrial and does not command my growth

I watched the sky collect itself in shock, shattering constellations over the sunset of our boundaries
The wind showed up to keep challenge me, but my hair swept strokes into my lips to calm my words and unclench my fists and I let my dress go white in the breeze
with my wish
to let our scars go soft
and turn our question mark spine into the shape of a heart
I started heal to toe on somewhere to go because any place is better than hard

Do you think there were not nights we did not want gentle to spread us open?
To push deeply on our souls
to pulse hard against the bottom of our hearts with the tip of their thoughts, planting their seeds into our soil

She was once here too in the gaze of her mirror or her shadow on the rocks
She conducted symphonies with new heartbeats for us to live in line with
stitching our DNA, with her blue veins, into the fabric of looking ahead
sewing with the next generation of mothers in her thread

For granddaughters she would never meet
so we would take lovers who will study the way that we walk just to improve how we talk
lovers who will let our grey matters live in their lungs
and will collect stars on their tongues
so that only constellations will drip from their lips in describing how high they will get
in witness to the ways we exist
and this will have nothing to with the switch of our hips, or our nape to their lips

And everything to do with the way we hold their cheeks against a chest beating with resilience
We cannot afford to let our hearts fall to the floor anymore
We sew with the next generation of mothers and fathers in our thread
We inherently carry their heartbeats in our belly’s
May they be made up of earth and the sweat of our longevity.

 


Tazbah Rose Chavez is a poet from Bishop, Ca. She is Navajo, San Carlos Apache, and Owens Valley Paiute, enrolled as a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe. She has been writing and performing since the age of 14, and often collaborates with fellow artists in fashion, film, and music. She is a UCLA alumni and currently resides in Seattle, WA.

Tazbah is photographed by Anthony “Thosh” Collins. He is Onk Akimel O’Odham and Haudenosaunee from Salt River, AZ. To view more of his work visit his website.

To learn more about Native American Heritage Month click here.