Evidence of Red- LEANNE HOWE

In my neverending quest to expand my horizons, I have been researching Native American poets. This is two-fold, first of all, I want to learn more about other poets and what inspires them but I also want to expose my students to these works as well. Leanne Howe’s “Evidence of Red” and “Indians Never Say Goodbye” both spoke to me. They are examples of how culture permeate our writing and give others the chance to sip a bit from our experiences. This is the kind of piece that I wish I would have been able to share with my maternal grandfather. This poem is featured in Howe’s 2005 book,Evidence of Red.

I am off to find more poets, poems and prose in an effort to fill my brain with even more words. I hope you all enjoy this piece!

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First, night opened out.
Bodies took root from rotting salt
and seawater into evidence of red life.
Relentless waves pumped tidal air
into a single heartbeat.

In the pulp of shadow and space,
water sucked our people from sleep.
That’s how it all began. At least
that’s all we can remember to tell.
It began with water and heartbeat.

In minutes we tunneled through
corn woman’s navel into tinges
of moist red men and women.
Yawning, we collected our chins,
knees, breasts, and sure-footed determination.

A few thousand years before
Moses parted the Red Sea, and the
God with three heads was born in the Middle East,
the Choctaw people danced
our homeland infra red.

Finally when the stranger’s arms
reached to strangle the West,
Grandmother eavesdropped
on the three-faced deity
who said that chaos was coming.

When he puckered his lips and tried to kiss her
she made it rain on him.
“Maybe you’ve forgotten
you were born of water and women,”
she said, walking away laughing.

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