KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 4: Fall 2015
Tanka Prose: 230 words

Native American Flora

by Charles D. Tarlton

a weeping willow
you would know of all the trees

The wind had started to blow on the Reservation and rawboned mongrels scuttled along with their backsides to it. Sand billowed up and clouds of dust tumbled along between the Burger King and the Western Union. Stooped-over men with nothing to do leaned against walls or light poles. The “vacant” sign at the Best Western burned yellow through the blur.

sends its feelers out
the slightest trace of water
sets them on a mad panic

water for eons
has cut the canyon’s red walls
like an old woman’s
sun-leathered face, some edges
smoothed by the gentler winds

Thick cottonwoods snake along the Chinle Wash where the old Navajos once grew their clusters of corn, beans, and squash and raised large flocks of sheep, and there were peaches in the canyon.

dead now and hardened
polished Olneya tesota burls
modernist sculptures
made under the desert arc
roots pulverized to dust

we gathered mesquite
for fires, older and deader

JoAnn forgot to pack the plates, the salad, and the beer, but I remembered the steak and bourbon; so we dug a hole, tended a fire till there were coals enough to cook the meat, and mixed the whiskey with water from the cold stream.

burned longer hotter
hard as stone, the red coals glow
far into the black evening

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