Words Like Love. Tanaya Winder

© Photo by Viki Eagle

Tanaya Winder is a poet, writer, artist, and educator who was raised on the Southern Ute reservation in Ignacio, CO. An enrolled member of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, her background includes Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, Diné, and Black heritages. Tanaya writes and teaches about different expressions of love: self-love, intimate love, social love, community love, and universal love. She attended college at Stanford University where she earned a BA in English and the University of New Mexico where she received an MFA in creative writing. Since then, she has co-founded As/Us: A Space for Women of the World and founded Dream Warriors, and Indigenous artist management company. She guest lectures, teaches creative writing workshops, and speaks at high schools, universities, and communities internationally. @tanayawinder ~ https://tanayawinder.com/

5 poems from Words like Love. West End Press New Series, 2015

PDF version

dear moon
hallow out my memory to a tree trunk
turned canoe so I may sail away from
the sea of you, waiting, ready to burst
into Milky Way. indistinguishable pieces
every time my mouth opens to encircle
your name but my lips dare not
form the shape.

reflections of the moon
in the beginning, Earth yearned for a companion, the Sun,
someone to share in the gifts: land, water, and
life. even light needs balance, darkness, death
to understand the push pull, days
echoing continuously. so, Earth gave an offering
to the sky, to become the Moon.
ever since, the Sun dreams growth
believing we would know – love intertwined
with loss if only we would look up each night.
but, we buried Earth’s sacrifice, caught in
our own wayward wanderings.
the stars aren’t the only ones capable of falling

the weight of water
When I first arrived into this world, I flew
on ancient winds. I was born into a creation story.
Long ago, my great great great grandmother met
her other half. He, too, flew on winds, then as one of
many grains of sand – each split in half looking
               for the other. Back then, humans were only spirits
searching for connections. Long ago, a single grain found
another, my grandmother. So, they asked the Creator
for bodies, to know what it was like to touch each other.
They did and foresaw their child would die in birth.
            So they prayed – Save her, each sacrificing
something in return. The man entered the spirit world
as a horse and the woman opened herself up
from the center to give him a piece of her
            to remain connected.
In the middle of the desert
there is a lake created out of tears. Long ago
there was a mother with four daughters:
North, East, South, and West. Once they grew up
each daughter left to follow her own direction.
Saddened by this loss, the mother cried
so intensely the skies envied her ability to create
such moisture. Days turned to months, months to
years and tears gathered in salty pools that gravitated
towards each other’s weight. Unable to release
her bitterness, the mother turned to stone.
Today, the Stone Mother waits.
Come back to me my children.
Come back to me.

broken/ pipelines
if we
            cannot even love                                                                      our land
            how can we love                                                                      each other
            how can we love                                                                      our/selves

for the murdered & missing Indigenous women on Turtle Island
Not when or where but how, did we lose you,
in between Last Seen _____ the words become elegy
echoing sidewalks and streets. Hand out your picture to
strangers. Post it on Post Office bulletin boards: Missing
as if it were destination, a place one goes
to disappear in invisible cities. Except there’s no hero like
in the movies. No ads, mainstream coverage, or TV shows
to show our story. Are we invisible if no one knows, why?
When 1,181 women were taken, did eyes cease to have vision
or pay attention to a body being swallowed up?
Those left behind who remember you continue on a mission,
an endless search of the cities in which we loved
(and love) you. We will never forget. We demand for you
action, words, even a poem that ends: your lives matter, too.

About the translators

© Photo by Elena Lehmann

Judith Santopietro was born in Córdoba (Veracruz, México), though she was also raised between Ixhuatlán del Café and Boca del Monte, communities in the Altas Montañas to which her family belongs. Her mother tongue is Spanish; nevertheless, she has learned Nahuatl for political reasons and to honor her foremothers. Judith holds a Master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She has published the books Palabras de Agua (Praxis, 2010) and Tiawanaku. Poemas de la Madre Coqa (Orca Libros 2019). She was awarded the Lázara Meldiú National Poetry Prize in 2014 and was a finalist for the International Literary Prize “Aura Estrada” in 2017.  She has published in the Anuario de Poesía Mexicana2006 (Fondo de Cultura Económica), Rio Grande Review, La Jornada and The Brooklyn Rail, and has also participated in numerous festivals, including PEN America’s World VoicesFestival in Nueva York, 2018. ~ @judesantopietro

© Photo by Elmaz Abinader

Kim Jensen is a Baltimore-based writer, poet, educator, and activist. Her first experimental novel, TheWoman I Left Behind, was a finalist for Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year. Her two collections of poems, Bread Alone and The Only Thing that Matters were published by Syracuse University Press. Kim’s articles, essays, poems, and stories have been featured in numerous publications, including Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss,Extraordinary Rendition:Writers Speak Out on Palestine,Gaza Unsilenced, The Baltimore Sun, The Oakland Tribune, and El Humo. In 2001 she won the Raymond Carver Award for short fiction.She is professor of English and Creative Writing at the Community College of Baltimore County where she is the founding director of the Community Book Connection, an interdisciplinary literacy initiative that demonstrates the vital relationship between classroom learning and social justice in the community. 

TED talk by Tanaya Winder