Entering the Age of Doubt [Should the Unexpected Occur]

Tanaya Winder

                       what do we make      of a world       obsessed       with trying

    to take      and transform,         until what is   natural            becomes unnatural.

    Who would believe       the earth‘s tears would gather       in salty whirlpools

       gravitating      towards       each other’s       weight or that       an Age of

    Doubt       came from wanting.    Too much    wishing upon stars     shaken into silence

       When,     the unlikely occurs:   the earth    splits herself     open   from the inside

  birds fall from skies       a presage to the Age        of Silence    where intoxicated glaciers

         stealth slowly,       radiating          across the land        in unforgiving rivers,    

                       the troubled waters  that eventually       cover up       our names.

Broken Hymn: To The Offset Metronome

You came over for dinner because the piano was without keys,
worried its presence was infecting, said it echoed
somber tones that lingered like braided rivers
leaving your belly full of hymns. Food sings
of silent energy contained and notes taste
like bread, like water, they speak
to the disconnect between heart and mind,
a sheet music engulfed by the wreck.
So much depends on the handling.
Things respond to the touch, finger on key.
You blame it on me for offsetting the metronome,
the lost meaning of natural and
accidental, the difference between white and black.
The fray of your fingers on piano conjures
a cadence. The syncopation of marking –
measure by measure, brief segments of time
assigned by God. In the geography of a hand offered
as if it were the last gesture
in the world, the keyless piano questions:
how to make its existence on earth more sounding.
Sometimes just living threatens to break a body.
The piano knows what is necessary to spill centuries
and that is why you took it apart key by key,
failed attempts at extending your range.

I’m Thinking Of The Kind Of Poems

I. You’ll like, the ones you’ll want

            I’m thinking of you
            how can you write
            write about Billy
            who writes? About the names,

            the breaks at dinner, oh
            how they'll always be
            political, the words, simply
            because they spring out of my body
            like moths, the dismantling of wings

II. How you play with Language

            have the thing mean the thing
            mean the thing. But the thing is

            our languages are
            dead have died
            are dying -
            and maybe if I were to

III. Write about it. Turn in

            a blank page with the title “A Poem Once Spoken
            in Shoshone By A Woman Who No Longer Speaks
            Her Language”

            you'd see. A poem
            that shows
            how daunting




            the white space is

IV. You’d see a woman, lost or broken

            holding herself in a hallway,
            the dirt-ridden floors of her former boarding
            schools, where they taught make it new, make it
            new. Words taught

            by a man who wanted us to be
            modern. Maybe it was too difficult
            to be real or the reality was too
            difficult trying to find yourself

IV. How to be American in America,

            questioning what it means
            to dream and at the same time defer
            to the appropriation of language

V. This is where I tell you

            I’m envious. You can write a poem
            about love, how you went to Paris
            or write about home, cowboys and Indians.
            You are not burdened by your body.
            If I were to write about home,
            you wouldn’t know where it is.  

            I’m no longer thinking of poems, but people
            the way mine are dead, how they died, how
            we are and are not dying.

Tanaya Winder
Tanaya Winder

Tanaya Winder is from the Southern Ute and Duckwater Shoshone Nations. She graduated from Stanford University in 2008 with a BA in English. Tanaya was a finalist in the 2009 Joy Harjo Poetry Competition and a winner of the A Room Of Her Own Foundation's Spring 2010 Orlando prize in poetry. Her poems have appeared in Cutthroat magazineYellow Medicine ReviewAdobe Walls, and Superstition Review, amongst others. She teaches composition and introduction to creative writing at the University of New Mexico where she is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry.