Wednesday Jun 19

WinderTanaya Tanaya Winder is a poet, writer, and educator, raised on the Southern Ute reservation in Ignacio, CO. An enrolled member of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, her background includes Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, Navajo, and Black heritages. Tanaya writes and teaches about different expressions of love (self love, intimate love, social love, community love, and universal love). A winner of the 2010 A Room Of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando prize in poetry, her poems from her manuscript “Love in a Time of Blood Quantum” were produced and performed by the Poetic Theater Productions Presents Company in NYC. Her debut poetry collection Words Like Love  was published by West End Press. She has a BA in English from Stanford University and a MFA in creative writing from UNM. She is a co-founder of As/Us: A Space for Women of the World. Tanaya is the Director of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Upward Bound Program, which services 103 Native American youth from 8 states, 22 high schools, and 8 reservations across the country. She continues to teach as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico. She created Dream Warriors Management, an Indigenous artist management company and collective. 

A Song for Redemption

My mouth is a cave, calloused with housing your name.
The overgrowth molds the air. I inhale
our memories slowly in
and out through lips parted

open. This is how we lived –
breaking like orange peel skin, edges inexact
and me trying to stitch jagged scraps.
Who was the last
to suckle sweetness, mouth around flesh?
The juice of everything I never told you
inching down my chin.

Imagine this overflowing:
light exploding as a thousand stars
sentenced themselves to the ocean. After you
died, I drank in waves –
               tried flooding my veins to change
my inner landscape. Guilt.
I drowned, swallowed mouthfuls,
until I became drunk on ghosts.

Your name haunts the tip of my tongue.
A survivor’s guilt lump takes root in
my throat’s stem, threatening to explode
the cold I’ve learned to live with.

My heart named itself a stray
bullet, intent on rediscovering all the holes
no song was big enough to stop the bleeding –
heart, yours a black hole
                              I spent nights trying to love out of you.
My fingers couldn’t grasp its edges
           so I used my voice to unzip each scar
to climb inside your fear. I found us there
continuously swimming from shore through sea
just to be caught two-stepping on the fiery ship’s deck
while the radio plays our favorite song,
the one with the voice grainy –
breadcrumbs we can trace our way back
through any river, city, landscape, or

ruin. I can still taste the sound
in the search for redemption
(mouth full of ash) now I know
what it’s like to burn beautifully.