Place Where You Live:

Chinle, Arizona

Six Chinle Photos

I keep moving farther from the east coast of New England. Farther from the beach. Farther from neat cape cod houses and moss covered stonewalls. I am of many tribes; daughters, grandmothers and teachers. My tribe is of writers and poets, beachcombers and nomads.

Now, I live among the Navajo in Arizona. I have had to get used to the perspective of the land where my jeep is lost behind a hummock and a raven can appear larger than a horse. The “big sky” meets the earth in all directions. The open space is suffocating, claustrophobic and there is nothing familiar for my eastern eye to rest upon. Packs of starving rez dogs roam the town and cows walk nonchalantly across the road without regard for traffic. Dust storms bring sand dunes to my windowsills and grit between my teeth. I stumble over cattle guards and prairie dog holes.

In the high desert I pray for a little rain or snow and curse the weight of red mud that clings to my hiking boots. Stubborn, I coax a few square feet of grass out of the dry earth, use too much water and experiment hopelessly with flower and vegetable gardens.

But I have begun to ignore the piles of trash on the mesa where I walk into an apricot sunset that surrounds the earth for 360 degrees. The ever-changing sky has become my ocean. Here without a tree line to obstruct I have seen more moonrise in 4 years then in all the rest of my 58 years combined. The high desert has given me the whispered rattle of a golden diamondback and the raw fear of a fox, the pure white puff of a newly hatched burrowing owl. I have learned to hike canyons, like a mountain in reverse using handholds of the ancients, I read their petroglyphs and pottery shards like poetry. The subtle greens and blues of sage and yucca color my world. Out of the nothingness of moonscapes grow giant sculptured rock formations. Here in the high desert there once was an ocean. I have found the shells. I am home.