Anasazi Women by Kevin Crossley-Holland

And with whichever story you come,
from whichever quarter or time,
the signs here mean the same.

Rock, clay, how they speak to us.

And as if from pink-brown pouts of cliff
snake-tongues of water
have slipped down, dripped down

and passing through themselves,
running through string-thin runnels,
the narrowest canyons of their own making,
grooved the high mesa, every limb:

The passage of feet feet feet
rubbed way this white rock.

Women of clay,
fingertips and palms
spiked by cactus,
how could they make these tracks?
Were they so blade-ankled
and slender-hipped?

Pots on their heads
heavy with hominy, pumpkin flesh,
were they so high-stepping,
knees to wasp-waists, each foot
placed directly in front of the other?

On this neck
high above the talus and twisted cliff-rose,
one petal of flint,
milk-white and deadly.
And look!
A sandal of crushed yucca leaves,
fringed at the toes,
Soft footfalls, fit for spirit-roads.

Women of clay, bearers of water.
Abalone in the sunlight.
Sweet song
of the wingbone of the golden eagle
crossing time.

And up top, as if the bandit wind
wields some giant rake with silver tines,
all the scruff and hardscrabble
is striated,
and scrub oaks rasp.
And where wrens flute
and loop,
the ground is stiff with sherds
- not sloping shoulders, slender hips,
not the little feet of dishes or fingerdips,

but all that remains
of pots proud-breasted and wide-hipped
pot-bellied pots like melons and gourds,
ample, kind and porous.
Cream slip,
black slip,
orange on sepia,
mouth wide, womb-wide,
round as this poor planet
we make, and break.
How gently she rocks the globe
in her net of hair.

Women of clay, Anasazi women.
through passage and cut,
crack and cleft
up and down [from] the windy mesa,
they left a dancer within a warm rock.
Her feet tap, her fingers click,
time has not turned down her smile.

And there is a piper
lifting life’s music,
replaying it to heaven.
Rock-woman, earth-woman,
coiled, almost foetal,
almost ready to spring out and stand,
singing-and-saying and, and, and...
Poem by Kevin Crossley-Holland;
The Language of Yes
Enitharmon Press,
London, Great Britain, ©1996;
Used with permission