A poem I wrote a year ago last spring as we drove across the Navaho Indian reservation on the way to Sarah's wedding in New Mexico has won two awards: selected at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery as a stimulus for a painting, and then for inclusion in the DSU's Southern Quill magazine 2013.
PROGRESS by Lin Floyd
Your children will go to government schools,
live there, wear uniforms, cut their hair,
not speak their native language––only English,
be taught our way of life, to worship our God.
Ugly tract homes now dot the reservation.
Here you will live. Forget your traditional ways.
They are silly superstitions. Don’t resist change.
Just conform, become like us. Progress!
Humble hogan, home of beloved ancestors,
faces east to catch the first rays of sunshine.
A new day begins, thanks offered for shelter,
tribal traditions and beliefs give sustenance.
Family gathers around the pot-belly stove
to ward off morning chill, a simple meal of fry
bread is prepared by mother. No refrigerator or
electricity in this small dwelling. Progress?
Dust devils dance across endless sand dunes.
Wind does its work: carves, molds, and covers
a bleak landscape. Men, horses and sheep search
for running water and vegetation in vain.
Tourists pass by in air-conditioned cars, hurrying
to modern cities filled with pollution and stress.
Native Americans struggle to survive amid
rampant alcoholism and despair. Progress?