by Feroza Jussawalla
Jim Silversmith stands tall over me
In Taos Pueblo as I admire filigree as delicate
as the ancient work in my Indian hometown,
carved into a storyteller cuff bracelet. Braids frame
the burnt adobe wrinkles, braids tied in
leather and not with Jasmines. A proud Rajput
he, a true Mogul with slit eyes, “¿De done eres tu?”
he asks, in Spanish, Taoseño being
sacred and secret.
We talk about how we were
carried by even more ancient colonizers
into the hearts of subcontinents,
and named by los güeros for a trade,
individuales colonizados, cousins,
our names stuck with the languages,
that grew in fertile and infertile soils
mangled, unmangled, untranslatable.
And yet, here I am translated.
Here I am in Taos Pueblo, nestled in the crook
Of the Sacred Mountain’s mothering shoulder,
mesas turn into rocks piled upon rocks,
pather pati, and merge with the
red-brown sandstone sculpted
by the wind into Arches, sifting, shifting sands
in one grand sweep from Dead Horse to the Deccani plateau
Jahilia, Mongolia, all holy sands from Mecca and Medina
We are all the same people
coming overland through the
northwestern passages into the hinterland,
over air, into the Northeastern passages—
coming to fill this vast
PHOTO: Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. Photo by Miroslav Liska.
NOTE: Taos Pueblo is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It’s located about one mile north of the city of Taos, New Mexico. Considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States, Taos Pueblo is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. A tribal land of 95,000 acres is attached to the pueblo, and about 4,500 people live in this area.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Feroza Jussawalla is Emerita Professor of English at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Originally from India, she is the author and or editor, and co-editor of several scholarly works, in postcolonial literature. Her collection of poetry, Chiffon Saris, was published by Toronto South Asian Review Press and The Writer’s Workshop, Kolkotta (2002).