Even the sky knows not to make promises of water, and the air knows not to dream the onset of rain. Even the animal who forgets the touch of a distant liquid cold waits without knowing. Earth is picking up her bones. Earth is tucking in her babies. Sleep well, little loves, sleep as you’ve never slept so you may wake as you’ve never woke. This is the earth that chants. This is the earth that grows teeth in the storm. This is the earth voicing each twig and leaf, every stem and stone. This is the earth that opens like a room. The ground sleeps through another season of drought. The land burrows further into exile, sinking upward, heaven to the ground, where bodies of hemlock and pine, cedar and fir, no longer cast old roots but tiptoe their arms around shrubs and metal stakes. Still, the land gives, the field grows, and the harvest enters when it is called. Flora of these hills and meadows are all but springing their desires under the rising moon. Leaves tended by hands that tended leaves from another mountain on another shore in another war. War made by hands of another for ownership of the mountain before leaving to new shores. I did not know when I birthed you that flight had been etched on our tongues. I did not know the jungle would take us far from our home, bring us to California with visions of new dirt and the brightest green in our blood.
Pao Houa Her’s exhibition Paj qaum ntuj / Flowers of the Sky is on view at the Walker Art Center July 28, 2022–January 22, 2023. >> more information