Response to a Reading by Joy Harjo
The National Museum of the Native American, Wash. D.C.

I know
Native blood flows
through my veins, my arteries
through my bones, my liver
through my lungs, my kidneys
through my heart.
I hear
red hands pound
on the drums of my ears
late in the night.
I hear
voices of sorrow
keen in my mind
on the wind of mountains.
I hear
Mother’s Father’s Mother’s
people cry out dirges
on the marches in the snows.
I hear
Father’s Ancestors
crack fire-sticks
creak leather saddles
as they rise to stand
in their stirrups.
I see
every day in the mirror
the structure of my face
my raven hair
and the blood-red of my beard
that smothers high cheekbones
I cry
to myself:
I am