Johanna Shapiro, PhD

I live in the white world
but I walk in the red way

By the time I wanted
to take a long walk
off a short pier
I couldn’t walk at all

My white doctors gave me
only a time limit
You have bad diseases
they said and told me names
But I have names of my own
Coyote the trickster
the Great Spirit, borrowed
angels, the Blessing Way

My children already argue
over the Navajo rug
and the grandfather clock
I will outlast them all

In my garden
I make my sacred space
with sage, candles, incense
and I sing my prayers

I sit in my wheelchair
but I am rooted in the earth
My legs won’t do the dances
but I still know the rituals

I hug the pines for strength
I listen to robins
My neighbors think I’m
crazy anyway

Bilagaana doctors
should listen to the
wisdom in all things
from before they were born

I will live to be a hundred
I will walk in the wind
And return on the waves
I will outlast you all

The white world claims my body
but my hope is red.

– Johanna Shapiro
– August, 2001