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Sample Poems by Dolores Hayden

Postcard from Prospect Avenue

Space speaks livelihood and disaster—
the double doors open wide
as if to attract customers,
the foundation lifts awkwardly

after the Sound flooded the street.
Someone penciled three sisters’ heights
against an upstairs bedroom wall,
youth rising summer after summer,

relentless as generations retreating.

Buying Paint

Zuni say North is blue,
blue for the turquoise mines.
South shifts red for the sun

warming pueblo walls.
Chinese vow North is black,
the color of winter and water,

blue forests fill the East,
yellow centers the compass,
muddy earth, a field of millet.

Atoni swear North is yellow.
West wears black like village headmen,
South dresses in red like the rulers.

Irishmen claim white for the Druids,
South’s magic is black, the color
of slaves and witches and women,

the color of music and the dead.
January in New England
I sweep our American hearth,

I fear snowfall, snowdrift,
I remember the curve
of summer’s double rainbow,

unwrap Iris’s scarf,
climb Buddha’s stair,
seven steps, hues from heaven.

Advanced Study

—Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California

Cork floors ensure a quiet workday morning,
the redwood walls are soundproof, walls of glass

reframe dry slopes of oaks and eucalyptus
where California quail scoot single file

along a split-rail fence. The scrub jays squawk.
A red-brown mule deer ambles by my door,

browses long grass, twitches her drooping tail.
She ruminates, gazing at me, rotates

remarkable long ears, wide, white inside,
pointed. One ear turns left, one right, askew

to catch all sounds. She shifts, she’s so alert
I freeze. I do not stir. She’s satisfied,

two fawns, a buck, emerge from heavy brush.
The scrub jays squawk again. The mule deer jump,

swerve in one bound, reverse midair, stotting.
(We all show off up here, once in a while.)

High on the ridge, astronomers adjust
a radio telescope, listen to space.

Star Picture Tipi of Black Magpie

You might walk past a dozen tipis
in cases flat against the walls,
their magic typed on paper labels—

Chief Hugging Bear’s could heal all men
and Black Cap’s Porcupine cured children.
Here Spotted Thunder bends blue light

to coil striped rainbows into suns,
Fair-Haired Old Man draws bats and eagles,
flies kite-shaped stars as green as grass,

Black Magpie crosses arrows, limns
red sky. Lifting one star to the east,
Black Magpie’s tipi woos the morning,

weds the night, while under the heavens
of the nation, Kiowa lose the Plains,
forfeit their world of weather for

blank sky, dull sun, stars rattling in a box
like dice. Or bones. “My heart is as
a stone,” says Kicking Bird.

“There is no soft spot in it.”