In the Poet's Spotlight for
August 2007: Elizabeth Urquhart
Elizabeth Urquhart grew up in New Mexico.
She graduated from the University of Iowa with a major in English
Literature and History, and later earned a Master's degree from Old
Dominion University. For eighteen years she taught as a reading
specialist in the Hampton, Virginia Schools. Her poems, which often focus on
the Southwest, have appeared in a collection of poetry from the
Williamsburg Poetry Group, Vintage Wine and Good Spirits, and in six
volumes of The Poet's Domain. Elizabeth is a member of the Poetry
Society of Virginia and the Williamsburg Poetry Guild. She is indebted
to the Guild for their friendship and support over the past nine years.
Her three children now grown and scattered, Elizabeth
[shown with rescued possum at right] lives with her Irish husband and
two cats in Hampton, where she devotes her energy to the arts,
gardening, and preserving the environment.
Index of Urquhart's Poems: Scroll down or click on Poem Title
of Elizabeth Urquhart (below)
© copyright Elizabeth Urquhart, All rights
GENEVIEVE RUNNING HORSE
An unpaved road, bumpy, rock-strewn,
on the western side of the Rosebud Sioux
in South Dakota, is where Genevieve
diminutive, with gold rim glasses, and
missing two teeth,
drives eighty miles roundtrip in an
ancient, yellow station wagon
to deliver “Breakfast in a Bag” to
seniors, and children in He Dog,
the town where she has spent seventy-two
For thirty of these years, she has
to the health care of her people—
the old ones, keepers of the traditions,
tribal memories, and spiritual beliefs.
They are the sacred ones, the soul of the
She, Genevieve Running Horse, sings
ancient chants to herself.
She drums with her fingers on the
and breathes the air of the prairie,
sometimes biting, sometimes soft and
Her body is older now, but her heart
Genevieve Running Horse is riding home.
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At three, runny-nosed and crying loudly,
I was taken by chalk-white people to a
My brothers and sisters and the parents
who adopted me are not part of me.
Neither white nor Indian, where do I
The healing ceremonies and customs of my
tribe are foreign to me.
I look into the mirror and see
high aquiline cheeks sharply-edged,
dark eyes, and a face the color of earth.
The face of a young Navajo man.
I’ve wandered through my life’s journey
When I look at jagged red bluffs and
cerulean skies, I think,
Is Mother Earth mine?
Is she closer to the white man’s God?
Where are the spirits of my ancestors?
My white parents say I belong to the
On a yellow, bright fall day, I return to
the home of my Navajo family.
The cousins, sister, and Aunt Hodezbah
enclose me in their arms.
They cry in Navajo, “He has returned
home; he has grown into a man.”
Heavy silver and turquoise bracelets
brush my forehead.
My aunt Hodezbah with tears running down
her cheeks says,
“He has been away, far from us.
We, who love him, will teach him, and
keep him here!”
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Hardy Haceesa came down from Nageezi
past pitted black lava, the badlands,
to the fertile green San Juan valley.
To Shiprock, legendary winged rock
the Navajos to safety from the other
Hardy was admitted to the hospital in
the small town.
No safety there.
Sin Nombre had entered his body,
chills, fever, weakness.
Strong Hardy Haceesa, 6’ 4”, the
Navajo Michael Jordan,
an athlete who embraced all, scored
44 points one day,
now stricken within five days.
Married with one child, a wonderful
Hardy had opened the rundown creaky
shed, the Pandora’s box.
Mouse droppings carrying the
Sin Nombre, infected him.
Blood poisoning, flu, bronchitis, the
while pasted on his mother’s wall was
a flier describing Sin Nombre.
Who would listen?
A helicopter sent from the University
Hospital in Albuquerque
flew Hardy Haceesa into a deep blue
where he gave up his brave soul.
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I am a Kachina.
I represent the gods, the sacred beings
of my people.
Soft, downy, eagle feathers crown my
My eyes are white-ringed—
chalky round dots decorate my high cheek
My hands hold bent, dried willow branches
to use as wands.
A wide leather belt, small curled shells
clinging to its sides, hugs my waist.
On my doeskin apron, rest minuscule pink
and white gifts from the sea.
Soft, brown moccasins enclose my feet,
which long to pound the clay earth of the
to begin the Soyal, the winter solstice
to cleanse the village of misfortune and
Prayer objects of feather and wood are
in the stubbly fields with the
The drums beat, the chanting begins.
All the kachinas move to the music.
Our spirits soar, our bodies bend and
We are one with Mother Earth and Father Sky.
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