200 New Mexico Poems Centennial Anthology

Photo by Laura Gilpin
Mrs. Francis Na Kai and son, 1932

I’m honored that my poem “Mrs. Francis Na Kai at the Birthday Party” is included in this incredible project, celebrating one hundred years past and one hundred years future of New Mexican poetry.

Francis Na Kai and Family,
Red Rock Arizona
Photos by Laura Gilpin

Mrs. Francis Na Kai at the Birthday Party

    After Laura Gilpin’s photograph in “The Enduring Navajo,” 1961

You dignify the rocker, your younger children

barefoot at your skirt. Pearls secure your neck.

Your daughter stands guard from behind.

Mrs. Francis Na Kai of the woven blanket. Your boy

spoke in code. 1932 you are a snapshot with him.

The anthropologist said you showed incredible

composure at a formal dinner you both attended, especially

for someone who didn’t speak a word of English.

What piñon smoke has eaten your hogan?
What boxed diorama, spectacled theater of WWII?

The red rock of your skin scorches

the photographer’s lens. Laura earned this picture.

She saved your first boy once, gave him

vaccinations. Your boy who should’ve been standing

beside his dad. Where’s he gone in this 1950 family portrait?

Your boy in whose place, an American Flag.

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