Roxanne Swentzell: How the spirits came to speak

A poem inspired by a picture of Roxanne Swentzell, one of life’s truly great Native American artists.

Espanola, New Mexico

Some where between the beginning
And the end of eternity,
The spirits conspired to speak,
For they were without a voice.
Their words unknown, unspoken,
Visible only in the art of creation.
Their hands were in the earth,
In the breath of the wind, the
Cooling showers of spring,
The birth giving heat of the sun,
The nurturing light of the moon.
The spirits had shaped and molded
All that ever was, or would be.
On a mesa swept with dust
Came they together to wait.
Time passed and time changed.
A pueblo rose from the clay
The spirits opened a dark hole in the dirt,
Sending the blind Mole into its depths
Bringing into the light the people,
The Tewa, to live in the Pueblo.
On the mesa called Turtle Mountain,
The people honored the spirits
In dance, in song, in pottery.
Yet, the spirits waited,  watching.
And, when the people had grown,
When the Red Willow People
Had found their true place,
Binding their hearts with Corn Mother,
A perfect seed was formed.
At the moment of that conception,
In this new small living seed,
The spirits joined their hands,
And gave to it their words.
The seed carried with in it
The unspoken art of creation,
The unknown voice of the spirits.
In the night, the seed grew, blossoming.
Its heart belonged to the Tewa,
Its hands to the voice of the spirits.
At morning,  when the sun began to rise,
The seed came into the world as a girl child,
She was named Roxanne, for the dawn.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

4 thoughts on “Roxanne Swentzell: How the spirits came to speak

  1. Well, Im kinda in shock. Its beautiful and I feel deeply honored to have this poem done for me.
    I keep thinking of my little girl self being blessed by the Spirits conspiring to speak………it makes
    me want to cry. Thank you, Donald, for your gift……….I will keep this with me. Roxanne


  2. Donald, this is a beautiful poem. You’ve gathered the spirit of a place, and honored it, and all who call it home. (And how lovely that Ms. Swentzell has been able to read it, too!!)


Thank you for visiting my poetry blog.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.