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107 pages, Paperback
First published March 3, 2020
In American imaginations, the logic of this image will lend itself to surrealism or magical realism—Often Diaz's voice is so fierce, she's almost roaring, writing from the center of several "wars"—against genocidal erasure and institutional racism, against environmental destruction, against her brother's drug addiction and the deprivation of reservations.
Americans prefer a magical red Indian, or a shaman, or a fake Indian in a red dress, over a real Native. Even a real Native carrying the dangerous and heavy blues of a river in her body.
What threatens white people is often dismissed as myth. I have never been true in America. America is my myth.
Because a long time ago, Creator gave us a choice: You can write like an Indian god, or you can have a jump shot sweeter than a 44oz. can of government grape juice—one or the other. Everyone but Sherman Alexie chose the jump shot.Through her astounding vocabulary (in at least three languages, including Mojave which she has famously spent many years helping preserve), Diaz battles it out against the degradation of the earth, her people, their bodies by the American state and by American values; exploring each through the gaps in translations and through the words and influences of Mahmoud Darwish, John Berger, Toni Morrison, Anne Sexton, Borges. Would she could exhaust you with meaning, with the sheer force of her words, at the end of which there lies only amazement at her glowing talents.
My lover comes to me like darkfall—long,
and through my open window. Mullion, transom. […]
I keep time on the hematite clocks of her shoulders.
(from “Like Church”)
I will swing my lasso of headlights
across your front porch,
let it drop like a rope of knotted light
at your feet.
While I put the car in park,
you will tie and tighten the loop
of light around your waist—
and I will be there with the other end
wrapped three times
around my hips horned with loneliness.
I will lie down in you.
Eat my meals at the red table of your heart.
Each steaming bowl will be, Just right.
I will eat it all up,
break all your chairs to pieces.
gone to ravel, to silhouette, to moths at the mercy / of the pale of her hips. Hips that in the early night / to light lit up—to shining sweet electricus, / to luminous and lamp—where ached to drink / I did till drunk.