The Sunday Poem: Tanaya Winder... The Impermanence of Human Sculptures

The amazing Tanaya Winder looks at life well as art.  This wonderful piece tackles the twist of time with both courage and brilliance.


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.




The essential arrangements:
choose a coffin

to keep her protected
from the elements. Consider the palpable aging

of paper; given sufficient time we rust –
like iron, disintegrate in the presence of

air moisture and water. Do we all sleep like marble
statues, fixed points

in a room with locked expressions?
Interpreting the abstract

space dangling between
waking and sleeping is an obsessive repetition.

Was it Eva Hesse
who explored the medium of art

fading over
time and wasn’t that part of what made it

beautiful? That's what I still called my mother
post-mastectomy, her single breast

a perfect display of three-dimensional
impermanence. A brave faced statue,

that's how I like to think of it. No –
that thinking makes it bearable

when people ask: how
did it happen? She hanged herself, a lone

wire suspending her delicately
like wet paper molded into the exact shape

of emptiness, unstable
like a cloth-covered coffin left crumpling

in the wind like paper, or Eva.
Dear Eva, diagnosed with a brain tumor, Eva who

died in 1970 and mother
who left behind words: keep it, safe –

as if the storage of places and names,
as if things and people couldn’t rust indistinguishably.


--Tanaya Winder


Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email



On another note, there are two poetry readings this afternoon that are certainly worth your consideration.  ABQ Poets Against War are sponoring an Open Mic event featuring Margaret Randall reading from her new book SOMETHING'S WRONG WITH THE CORNFIELDS.  It's at 3:00 (signup at 2:45) at ABQ Center for Peace & Justice, 202 Harvard SE, $5.  No one turned away for lack of funds.  This is a fund-raiser for the Center.


Lisa Gill and Don McIver are reading at the Duende Poetry Series in Placitas this afternoon, also at 3:00.  It is at the Anasazi Fields Winery.


Views: 189

Comment by cathyray on March 13, 2011 at 9:29am
another great, thoughtful Sunday morning here in the church of the Fix!
Comment by Brian Hendrickson on March 13, 2011 at 9:42am
One of the most careful, lucid, and transformative poems I've read on the Sunday Poem. Truly astonishing. Many successful poems make familiar meanings seem fresh and new, but here new meaning is in the making, and that is surely the greatest treasure. Thank you for that, Tanaya.
Comment by Stewart Warren on March 13, 2011 at 11:36am


" wet paper molded into the exact shape
of emptiness, unstable..."


Thank you so much, Ms. Winder, for this poignant exploration of humanity, and the courage to say “keep it, safe—“ in the face of this grand impermanence.

Comment by Margaret Randall on March 13, 2011 at 11:49am
I love this poem. Really makes you think...and feel!
Comment by AriesSweet on March 13, 2011 at 2:28pm
Wow!  Very enduring.  A deep concentration and thought as I read it.  Impressive!
Comment by Ben Moffett on March 13, 2011 at 2:31pm
Yes, contemplate the meaning of life and time -- deep time, deep space. Cathyray, I like what you said about the Sunday poem, "The Church of the Fix." A Sunday revival meeting that lasts all year with someone different in the pulpit every Sunday, courtesy of the Ditchrider.
Comment by Barelas Babe on March 13, 2011 at 6:06pm
The emotion in this poem took my breath away. The carefully crafted words made me return, with measured breath. Beautiful tribute.
Comment by Dee Cohen on March 13, 2011 at 6:30pm

Filled with lovely shapes and thoughts.

Thank you, Dee

Comment by Amanda Sutton on March 13, 2011 at 6:45pm
I love how Ms. Wilder contrasts the airy, fleeting human existence with the permanence of iron, marble, statues. Absolutely ethereal and thought provoking. Bravo!
Comment by Tanaya Winder on March 14, 2011 at 12:24am
Thank you all so much for all of the wonderful comments! I appreciate it, truly.


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