Mesa Verde National Park Anna Montgomery

‘What’s she doing?’
‘She’s sketching, she’s an artist.’
old men fondly remember
proper women
telling tales of the War
sons who don’t listen
bemoan generations without values in America

‘Was machst du?’
‘Excuse me, when will
the 10:30 Long House tour return?’
I’m not wearing a park ranger uniform
this happens all the time at Target
I have a customer service face in America

crowds of eager eyes and restless voices
little myth making for me here today
paucity of material
meets 100 degree heat
melting the initiators
global warming’s a gift from America

no room for thought
society’s lost its silence
can’t read Black Zodiac in peace
The Appalachian Book of the Dead
‘Go in fear of abstractions’
Charles Wright was born
in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee
here in America

returning to sketching
I try to make marks
meaningful in my privacy
so awkward with an audience
trespassing at the Ancestral Puebloan site
Utes got a corner, whites got a park
(archaeologists named them Anasazi,
Navajo word for ancient people
or ancient enemy)
method of loci, utterly American

retreat to the car
inner dialogue
(chattering monkeys)
we are having a very disparate
experience of this America

I worry I am a creature made
only for the hearth
open to the vast landscapes
of the mind and nature
so little at home
in this narrow, confounding ‘America’

the breeze soothes
nested in the tail gate
interrupted only by traffic, bird calls
my solace is won, art lives,
making the world real again
escaping America

the mark must be made
it must be fixed
time to draw the line
an infinitely nuanced touch
like the potent power of naming
this line must be drawn
with curves and crooks
from a fleshy hand
New Amsterdam descendent, all American
since 1640 before she had a name
I’m awaiting the alternative reality of America

Notes: Mesa Verde (‘green table’ in Spanish) National Park was the first park founded under the Americans Antiquities Act of 1906 is located in the SW corner of Colorado near the Four Corners area. This is where the state lines of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado join. It is on a high stone cliff (7000-8000+ feet in elevation). Long House is on top of Weatherill Mesa and is one of the many sites where the Ancestral Puebloans or Ancient Pueblo Peoples lived between 600AD and 1300AD. The Utes, whose reservation is in the area of Mesa Verde, are not descendants of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples. Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning ‘ancient ones’ or ‘ancient enemies’ an odd choice for archeologists to make, the modern Pueblo Peoples, who claim them as ancestors, prefer the name Ancestral Puebloans.

‘Was machst du?’ is ‘What are you doing?’ in German.

Target is a US corporation: ‘Our mission is to make Target the preferred shopping destination for our guests by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and an exceptional guest experience by consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less.® brand promise. To support our mission, we are guided by our commitments to great value, the community, diversity and the environment.’

The Ute Indian Tribe consists of more than 13 historic groups that included the Capote, Cumumba, Moache, Moanumts, Pah Vant, Parianuche, San Pitch, Sheberetch, Taviwach, Timanogots, Tumpanawach, Uintah, Uncompahgre, White River, Weeminuche, and Yamperika. They were forced out of many areas of the West after the Ute War and now hold the Uintah & Ouray, Southern Ute, and Ute Mountain reservations. Today they are self-governed, ‘domestic dependent nations’, with many sovereign powers retained from the pre-contact period. There are currently 500 tribal governments recognized in America.

Charles Wright is an American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for Black Zodiac in 1998. ‘Go in fear of abstractions’ is from his The Appalachian Book of the Dead. Pickwick Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Tennessee River in Hardin County.

New Amsterdam, from 1614-1644 part of the New Netherland Territory, was the settlement that became New York City. It grew up to provide security to the Dutch East India Company’s fur trade (a megacorporation). The land was purchased from the Lenape, Algonquin Native Americans, for 60 guilders. The Lenape tribe mostly ended up forced into the Oklahoma Territory, within the Cherokee Nation, in the 1860s. My ancestors, 11 generations back, Michael Paulus Van Der Voort (later Vanderford) and Marritie Joris Rapalje came to New Amsterdam in 1640. He was from Dermonde, Flanders, Netherlands. I’ve traced most of my ancestors back 10-11 generations to the first immigrants arriving in the 1600s from Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, and France.