Recently I was out at a site with petroglyphs near Bishiop. The sun had set, I had the place to myself, Beautiful and mystical scratchings in the volcanic slab faces. This place was in the middle of nowhere. Nothing but sparse, ankle-high scrub, sand and stones for miles; save for this slightly elevated place where the volcanic rocks broke though the sandy surface like weathered molars of a mutated dinosaur long in the tooth.
Who are my people?
Every which way, these rocks. I had the place to myself and as the twilight continued to ensconce the scene, I walked barefoot through the sandy nooks and crannies of this place; nearly stepping on a young rattlesnake in the dim light, though it was unimpressed and did not coil nor rattle, but simply moved along. Me and the rattle snake; the only two living things slithering around this ancient place.
It’s dark enough now that the moon demands attention, disclosing her first sliver in days with a planet nestled close below it’s curve for a good look. More stars appear as the petroglyphs continue to retreat into their pock-marked surfaces from which they were etched. I was feeling something untold. Feeling the ancient time of this place yet, not able to feel the time that has passed. It was as if they were made yesterday and these people had just gone home for the day, tired, dehydrated and sun-baked from the day's efforts under the light of the nearby star. But home to where? These people did not have horses. There was no cover whatsoever on this land. Why this place? What makes this place such a sacred place? Certainly there are opportunities for making powerful images much closer to where they regularly dwell. I can understand the draw of this site, especially in the warmth of the late summer gloam, yet; I would be hard pressed to be inspired to spend countless… hours? days? yearly returns? to find so much magic and meaning to cause me to etch lines intended to speak stories to the gods, and my grandchildren. Would I know that these chalky lines would be speaking to me now? centuries and centuries later? I must confess though that what they speak is but a murmur of an unintelligible language that bewitches my imagination and stabs the empty, disconnected place deep inside of me as if an old uncle in robes poking me in the chest with old Pinon staff and a stern admonishment to pay attention to a teaching at hand. I nod to confirm that I am listening, but secretly inside I know that I missed it. Too many movies.
My Deoxyribonucleic Acid scrambles, consults old, old archives to release the right chemical combination to my brain to stimulate other chemicals combinations to release a memory through a sequence of firing synapses; but they fail to remember just which molecules are to be pulled off the dusty, cobwebbed shelf. So I stand there, in the empty desert, the now blank stones, in darkness. Waiting. But nothing is coming. Just a growing sadness that wants to find tears but cannot wander their way through the abrasive, dense chaparral of the intellect. Each thorny branch twisting and contouring into letters that spell out the question, “Cry for what? These are not our lands. Not our people. It is not our place to grieve here. If tears come it’s because you are first guilty, second appropriating, and third, wanting to feel a connection and understanding that will not come, even with tears.” I hate this voice. I am but a voyeur here.
“There is a power in nature that humans have ignored. And the result has been heartache and pain.” - Anasazi Foundation
I kneel and kiss the ground and thank these people and their way. It’s dark. I meander back to the truck and kick over it’s old engine. The din breaks the spell of this place and I can smell the road dust billowing behind me as begin putting miles between me and those rocks. Thank you, old uncle. I know I was listening this time. Please don’t give up on me.
Mitákuye Oyás’in; for all my relations.