What Whirlwind Man Told Kochininako, Yellow Woman
-----I myself belong to the wind
-----and so it is we will travel swiftly
-----this whole world
-----with dust and with windstorms.
My thigh clung to his with dampness, and I watched the sun rising up throught the tamaracks and willows. The small brown water birds came to the river and hopped across the mud, leaving brown scratches in the alkali-white crust. They bathed in the river silently. I could hear the water, almost at our feet where the narrow fast channel bubbled and washed green ragged moss and fern leaves. I looked at him beside me, rolled in the red blanket on the white river sand. I cleaned the sand out of the cracks between my toes, squinting because the sun was above the willow trees. I looked at him for the last time, sleeping on the white river sand.
I felt hungry and followed the river south the way we had come the afternoon before, following our footprints that were already blurred by lizzard tracks and bug trails. The horses were still lying down, and the black one whinnied when he saw me but he did not get up - maybe it was because the corral was made out of thick cedar branches and the horses had not yet felt the sun like I had. I tried to look beyond the pale red mesas to the pueblo. I knew it was there, even if I could not see it, on the sandrock hill above the river, the same river that moved past me now and had reflected the moon last night.
The horse felt warm underneath me. He shook his head and pawed the sand. The bay whinnied and leaned against the gate trying to follow, and I remembered him asleep in the red blanked beside the river. I slid off the horse and tied him close to the other horse. I walked north with the river again, and the white sand broke loose in footprints over footprints.
He moved in the blanket and turned his face to me with his eyes still closed. I knelt down to touch him.
He smiled now, eyes still closed. "You are coming with me, remember?" He sat up now with his bare dark chest and belly in the sun.
"To my place."
"And will I come back?"
He pulled his pants on. I walked away from him, feeling him behind me and smelling the willows.
"Yellow Woman," he said.
I turned to face him. "Who are you?" I asked.
He laughed and knelt on the low, sandy bank, washing his face in the river. "Last night you guessed my name, and you knew why I had come."
"But I only said that you were him and that I was Yellow Woman - I'm not really her - I have my own name and I come from the pueblo on the other side of the mesa. Your name is Silva and you are a stranger I met by the river yesterday afternoon."
He laughed softly. "What happened yesterday has nothing to do with what you will do today, Yellow Woman."
"I know - that's what I'm saying - the old stories about the ka'tsina spirit and Yellow Woman can't mean us."
My old grandpa liked to tell those stories best. There is one about Badger and Coyote who went hunting and were gone all day, and when the sun was going down they found a house. There was a girl living there alone, and she had light hair and eyes and she told them that they could sleep with her. Coyote wanted to be with her all night so he sent Badger into a prairie-dog hole, telling him he thought he saw something in it. As soon as Badger crawled in, Coyote blocked up the entrance with rocks and hurried back to Yellow Woman.
"Come here," he said gently.
He touched my neck and I moved close to him to feel his breathing and to hear his heart. I was wondering if Yellow Woman had known who she was - if she knew that she would become part of the stories. Maybe she'd had another name that her husband and relatives called her so that only the ka'tsina from the north and the storytellers would know her as Yellow Woman. But I didn't go on; I felt him all around me, pushing me down into the white river sand.
Yellow woman went away with the spirit from the north and lived with him and his relatives. She was gone for a long time, but then one day she came back and she brought twin boys.
"Do you know the story?"
"What story?" He smiled and pulled me close to him as he said this. I was afraid lying there on the red blanket. All I could know was the way he felt, warm, damp, his body beside me. This is the way it happens in the stories, I was thinking, with no thought beyond the moment she meets the ka'tsina spirit and they go.
"I don't have to go. What they tell in stories was real only then, back in time immemorial, like they say."
He stood up and pointed at my clothes tangled in the blanket. "Let's go," he said.
I walked beside him, breathing hard because he walked fast, his hand around my wrist. I had stopped trying to pull away from him, because his hand felt cool and the sun was high, drying the river bed into alkali. I will see someone, and then I will be certain that he is only a man - some man from nearby - and I will be sure that I am not Yellow Woman. Because she is out of time past and I live now and I've been to school and there are highways and pickup trucks that Yellow Woman never saw.
It was an easy ride north on horseback. I watched the change from the cottonwood trees along the river to the junipers that brushed past us in the foothills, and finally there were only piñons, and when I looked up at the rim of the mountain plateau I could see pine trees growing on the edge. Once I stopped to look down, but the pale sandstone had disappeared and the river was gone and the dark lava hills were all around. He touched my hand, not speaking, but always singing softly a mountain song and looking into my eyes.
I felt hungry and wondered what they were doing at home now - my mother, my grandmother, my husband and the baby. Cooking breakfast, saying, "Where did she go?-maybe kidnapped." And Al going to the tribal police with the details: "She went walking along the river."
The house was made with black lava rock and red mud. It was high above the spreading miles of arroyos and long mesas. I smelled a mountain smell of pitch and buck brush. I stood there beside the black horse, looking down on the small, dim country we had passed, and I shivered.
"Yellow Woman, come inside where it's warm."
He lit a fire in the stove. It was an old stove with a round belly and an enamel coffeepot on top. There was only the stove, some faded Navajo blankets, and a bedroll and cardboard box. The floor was made of smooth adobe plaster, and there was only one small window facing east. He pointed at the box.
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Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Today
Leslie Marmon Silko
"She was in a town. Then Yellow Woman went for water. With her jar Yellow Woman went for water. She reached the river. " em CUISI'NYINAWA, aqui.