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Where Clouds Are Formedby Ofelia Zepeda
Synopses & Reviews
Ofelia Zepeda is a Native American poet who possesses a kind of double vision. She sees the contemporary world through her own highly observant eyes and, at the same time, through the eyes of her Tohono Oodham ancestors. Seeing this way infuses her poetry with a resonance and depth that makes it a delight to read—and re-read.
Zepeda is as clear-eyed about the past as she is about the present. She recalls waiting for the school bus on a cold morning inside her fathers truck, listening to the sounds of the engine, the windshield wipers, and the soft rain on the hood.” She remembers celebrating Mass on the cold dirt floor of the Winter Solstice.” In the present, she sees both the frustration and the humor in a woman she observes trying to eat pancakes with one hand while her other resides in a cast: Watching her, I realize eating pancakes is a two-handed job.”
Whatever she sees, she filters through her second set of eyes, which keep the past always present. She tells of traveling to Waw Giwulig, the most sacred mountain of the Tohono Oodham, to ask for blessings—and forgiveness. She writes that one should always bring music to the mountains, so they are generous with the summer rains.” And, still, the scent of burning wood / holds the strongest memory. / Mesquite, cedar, piñon, juniper, . . . / we catch the scent of burning wood; / we are brought home.” It is a joy to see the world afresh through her eyes.
About the Author
Ofelia Zepeda is the author of two previous books of poetry, including Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert, and the first grammar textbook of the Tohono O'odham language: A Tohono O'odham Grammar. She is a Regents' Professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona and is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship for her work in American Indian language education.
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