they went to burn the spines from the cholla and prickly pear. They stood back by the wagon and watched the cows walk up to the cactus cautiously, sneezing at the smoldering ashes. The cows were patient while the green pulp cooled, and then they brought out their wide spotted tongues and ate those strange remains because the hills were barren those years and only the cactus could grow. . . .
Josiah said that only humans had to endure anything, because only humans resisted what they saw outside themselves. Animals did not resist. . . .
old Ku’oosh waited until the voices of the women could no longer be heard before he moved the chair closer to the bed. He smelled like mutton tallow and mountain sagebrush. He spoke softly, using the old dialect full of origins, as if nothing the old man said were his own but all had been said before and he was only there to repeat it. . . .
She danced, spinning her body, pulling her thighs and hips into sudden motions, bending, sweeping, veering, and lunging — whirling until she was the bull and at the same time the killer, holding out her full skirts like a cape.
The men sitting around tables at the edge of the dance floor pushed themselves away, some stumbling over chairs, spilling their beer in a panic that pounded in their chests like her heels against the floor. The bartender left a towel stuffed in the glass he had been wiping. But they watched; pressing close to one another, shivering in the farthest corner of the bar, they watched her; and when the guitar player finally laid his instrument on the floor and held his head between his hands, she danced on. . . .
The liars had fooled everyone, white people and Indians alike; as long as people believed the lies, they would never be able to see what had been done to them or what they were doing to each other. He wiped the sweat off his face only the sleeve of his jacket. He stood back and looked at the gaping cut in the wire. If the white people never looked beyond the lie, to see that theirs was a nation built on stolen land, then they would never be able to understand how they had been used by the witchery; they would never know that they were still being manipulated by those who knew how to stir the ingredients together: white thievery and injustice boiling up the anger and hatred that would finally destroy the world: the starving against the fat, the colored against the white. The destroyers had only to set it in motion, and sit back to count the casualties. But it was more than a body count; the lies devoured white hearts, and for more than two hundred years white people had worked to fill their emptiness; they tried to glut the hollowness with patriotic wars and with great technology and the wealth it brought. And always they had been fooling themselves, and they knew it. . . .
The flowers were all colors of yellow that day — silky yellow petals like wild canary feathers, and blossoms as dark as the center of the sun. . . . Up ahead, a snake stopped and raised its head alertly; the tongue slid in and out and then stopped when it located him. It was a light yellow snake, covered with bright yellow spots, like the wild flowers pulled loose and traveling. . . .
The cinders made hollow crunching noises under his boots. He had come a long way with them; but it was his own two feet that got him there.
a book to read again & again