• alannacronk7

Abalone

Language has a way

Of drawing lines

And shaping our understanding

Of what things are.

I use lots of different words for space.

I live in a neighborhood

In a city

In a district.

And, thus, my mind builds a schema

For identifying

Neighborhoods and cities and districts,

But my ancestors had no such words.

It was all just land,

Some over here and there,

Or at least that is what my elder tells me—

My elder who holds the future of our language in his hands.

We have words too, though.

Things we know, things they cannot.

Words the Spaniards did not want.

Signifiers their Padres saw and ignored.

Colonizers do not seem to see

The majesty in the mountains,

God in the trees,

Or life in the sands.

They cannot see the difference between

t̓aya, the black abalone;

qašə, a red or blue abalone;

štuʼiwaš, abalone shell with tar covering its holes.

It almost feels like a contradiction

They do not see the value of the life-sustaining abalone

The importance of our culture

But, sure, take the land—and the people while you are at it, too.

And so our language ages

And these words, t̓aya, qašə, štuʼiwaš

All sit in my dictionary on my desk

In my neighborhood, my city, my district.

Which is no home of mine.

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