The Sunday Poem: Tanaya Winder... Hole In My Heart

I come from the Duckwater Shoshone and Southern Ute nations. I was raised on the Southern Ute Indian reservation in southern Colorado; I consider that place along with the Pyramid Lake Paiute reservation in Nixon, NV my two homes, my origins. Because of the strong connection I feel towards place, I feel I am a child of both water and the desert. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I have chosen to make my home here in Albuquerque. I am grounded in these elements and fascinated by the push pull of the water. There is so much we can learn about life, loss, and the relationships between people (each other) from the land and earth if we open ourselves to these lessons. My writing comes out of a sense of longing learned from the desert and water because maybe what we all long for is to know what it is like to be that space where the waves meet the sand. It is this balance I try to question, investigate, and delve into each time I put the pen to the page.

I graduated from Stanford University in June 2008 with a Bachelors in English (emphasis in creative writing). Now, I am pursuing a MFA in poetry from UNM.


I came into this world
incomplete, born with a hole
in my heart. It happened

in my mother’s womb.
Doctors have a name for it,
“call it congenital cardiovascular defect.”

My grandmother calls it “the moon
emptied of its many faces.” It is against nature;
creation sometimes has a will of its own.

Or is it a pact from the past
made long ago? It happened
in my mother’s womb, the blood

vessels closest to my heart
didn’t develop normally; the way nature
or God intended for it to be.

When the doctors say hereditary,
my grandmother responds
ancestrally – in prayer, in songs gifted

to her. My mother and I, do not know
the words. But, when grandmother sings
she is calling on horses to run

in on clouds to protect us,
to save us. Long ago, there was a man
who loved my great great great grandmother.

The love connected two people,
two spirits, so deeply
it shook the earth. I imagine it,
the way it should have lasted – long after

the moon. Yet, he left
her. His leaving made this
hole passed down in my grandmother’s
grandmother’s womb.

--Tanaya Winder

Submissions to The Sunday Poem are always welcome. Email

Views: 266

Comment by Margaret Randall on September 20, 2009 at 8:44am
What a wonderful poem! We are all born incomplete, in one way or another, or too complete which turns out to be the same thing. This poem leaps from world to world to make me know, again, how important all these connections are.
Comment by cc on September 20, 2009 at 8:55am
Yes, Margaret - I agree with your good thoughts about the poem.
Tanaya Winder - nice to be able to read your beautiful poem this morning, thank you for sharing it!
Comment by Ben Moffett on September 20, 2009 at 10:15am
Touching. Remarkable. I hope it's not an insult to MFA code to be also called comprehensible.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on September 20, 2009 at 11:33am
Beautiful--I love grandmother poems--thank you.
Comment by JeSais on September 20, 2009 at 5:55pm
beautiful poem from a beautiful poet.... thanks Gin (or are you Juice?) for sharing !!
Comment by Lizbeth Isidora Ramirez on September 21, 2009 at 10:57am
Its was very powerful and I love it. I love poems which are about a persons life and where they come from.
Comment by JMG on September 22, 2009 at 7:31pm
Lovely poem! I wonder if you are Natahnee's sister?


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