I am from recycled goods, bus passes, and borrowed books,
walking in the canyons, biking in the woods,
reading about places I want to visit,
hearing about people I want to meet,
riding the bus alone.
I am from homes with no electricity and hauled water in containers,
brilliant night skies, ambrosial petrichor,
cutting wood for winter, baking bread for dinner,
watching bootleg movies on a duct taped television,
hitchhiking to get to the city.
I am from game stews, bowls of mush, squash and frybread,
sweet mush with clumps when my mom makes it,
mush plain with black coffee when my father makes it,
blue corn mush with juniper ash when my friend’s mom cooks it,
“What is mush?” off the reservation.
I am from “What are you?” …never who,
“I thought all you guys were dead” and
“Well my grandmother is a Cherokee Princess,”
I am from “Be Proud of who you are,”
I am from places and cultures that seem worlds away sometimes.
I am from Norma and Bernard and a cobbling of friends,
a patchwork of people met along the way,
Elders words and oral histories,
traditionalists and rebels,
caring people whose toil is quiet but the impact deafening.
Robin Máxkii is a graduate of Diné College and a current student at Salish Kootenai College. This poem is inspired by George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From.”