The Account of a Recent Travel

The road is in constant digestion. A continual bowel
movement in sync with my recent pattern of being
behind the wheel of a car — cataloguing each roadkill
into my database, each scrap of litter, each pocket
of whispers like the garbage trapped in the barbed
fence barriers. My travels to the reservation filter

like a giant kidney. Congressional ink flittering, like
tattered American flags, reformulates nourishment.
A recalculation like a coyote trickster inserting road
signs on my path. And I am left pattering along
like distressed platelets bouncing and bumping,
pressing and pinching along fatty fluid. My travel

is acute like the early morning songs of a Blessingway
ceremony. My travel renews as the white dawn.
My travel satisfies like beauty all around me, like
a King’s longing for the sweetest water drawn from
the well of Bethlehem.

— Esther Belin

Artist and poet Esther Belin grew up in Los Angeles and describes herself as a U.R.I., or Urban-Raised Indian, “one of the myriad indigenous peoples on the planet to survive in urbanized areas.” Her parents were relocated from the Diné (Navajo) country (father: Birdsprings, AZ; mother, Torreon, NM) in the 1950s as part of the U.S. Federal Indian Relocation Policy.

[Research note: this poem came from Liberation, a poetry collection edited by Mark Ludwig and published by Penguin Books in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nazi concentration camps.]