Tag Archives: Chimney Rock

The Matron of the Spring

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

The matron of the hot spring inspected new people as they arrived and assigned them a reed mat, a cloth of cotton, and a robe of cotton or animal skins, depending on their rank. When an arrival impressed her, she bestowed the buffalo robe to them.

When the latest old man came to soak in the hot water, she watched to see if he behaved as if a crazy spirit had replaced him, or if he carried himself with lucid wisdom. This one seemed aloof to the physical things going on around him, yet completely aware.

She handed the buffalo robe to him.

“I’m not worthy of a top robe,” he said. “I just wish to lie in the warmth and watch the sky for a few days.” He coughed and cleared his throat and struggled with his next words. “And wait for my grandson to return.”

The matron offered the robe to the old man’s companions, an unusual albino woman and a boy. The albino woman took it with a grateful nod. The boy turned and gazed at the highest mountain north of the hot spring.

The matron had seen this before. Old men from all the surrounding clans would bring their sons or grandsons to climb the peak of the mother of hot water, while they suspended their bodies and spirits in the fragrant waters and mud of the springs.

“He’s older than he looks,” the albino woman, called Nuva for “snow,” told the matron. They watched the boy, Tuwa, set off for the mountain in the first dim light of the next morning.

“I’ve seen smaller boys go to the mountain,” said the matron.

“Do they all return?”

“Most,” she said. “Very few fail. It is more difficult than dangerous. I myself have been close to the top.” She didn’t want to alarm this odd white woman who tended the regal old man. People who became panicked because their sons and grandsons did not return invariably failed to pay her, which meant less food and meat and clothing for her family.

When she learned they were from the Village of the Twin War Gods, and that Grandfather was its famous Sky Chief, she quietly made the other soakers leave the big pool to Grandfather alone. He lay in the heat with his head propped on folded animal skins and watched the sky without speaking.

Finally, the boy returned, staggering and babbling wildly, and the matron tried to appear to leave them in private while staying close enough to overhear. His story had more profound meaning than most, and she shrank from the blasphemy Grandfather spoke against Másaw, the great spirit preferred by the High Priest of Totec Canyon. Glad that no warriors were here from the canyon, she helped clean the mud from the old sky watcher and dry him off to prepare for their return walk to the Twin War Gods. She felt no personal allegiance to Totec Canyon and its new religion, but trouble would hurt her trade.

The Sky Chief approached the matron with a self-effacing bow. “You have helped the bones of this old man,” he said, and handed her a small plain pouch.

When they were on their way and out of sight, she shook the contents of the pouch into her hand: fifty well-worked turquoise beads. She quickly poured them back into the pouch and hid it between her breasts. She’d never received a richer payment.

She looked around, but no one watched her with any particular attention, and she thought about the boy’s story and the interpretation by his grandfather. Someday, she thought, this will become a problem. But she also felt obliged to the old sky watcher, his grandson, and the albino woman. Their generosity demanded it. She squinted in the bright sunlight to watch three new people approach her spring. People will always come here, she told herself. Regardless of changing leaders and religion and the unspeakable acts of warriors she heard whispered by her visitors. She just hoped that all of it left her spring and her people alone.

When the new visitors arrived, a skinny-legged old man, a woman, and a boy who said, “This place smells funny,” she handed the old man a worn cotton robe.

# # #

These are the hot springs of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and the Village of the Twin War Gods is the nearby Chimney Rock archaeological area. The peak climbed by the boy is Pagosa Peak, north of Pagosa Springs. “Pah-gosa” is Ute for “water boiling.”

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Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, Historial Fiction, Pagosa Springs


An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

The forest rang with calls of “Fall! Fall!” Then the slow pounding of stone on living wood resumed. Men and boys worked two to a tree.

“Look!” shouted the old man. “They have fallen their first tree!” He pointed across a wide glade of grass to another encampment of tree-cutters who had arrived the day after the old man’s crew.

“Our trees are bigger. Harder to fall,” said the half-wit, a man with one eye that googled out of control. The men tolerated him at a distance and rarely responded to anything he said.

“Work, don’t talk,” growled the old man, rumbling his voice like a bear’s. “By dark I want more trees fallen here than there!”

The wood-cutters picked up their pace. They took turns, each pounding their tree with a dull river stone until their arms hung limp.

“Fall!” called the half-wit in frustration. Soon all the men joined in. “Fall! Fall!”

The first tree fell and the men cheered. More began to fall and the old man danced in circles when they had one more tree on the ground than the crew across the prairie.

At dusk, the only tree still standing belonged to the half-wit and his partner.

“Tree too big,” said half-wit, gasping. He beat at it ineffectually and the other men gathered around to watch. The crew from across the prairie walked over to socialize and they, too, watched.

“Why don’t you help him?” asked a man from the other crew.

“We will. But not until he passes out. We have a Grandmother who believes he accidentally casts spells when you help him.”

So they watched until, by moonlight, the exhausted half-wit had whimpered himself to sleep. The men gently moved him out of the way and had the tree down before the women’s camp called them to dinner.

# # #

Can you imagine cutting timber this way? Think of a world with no steel axes, only river stones hafted by wood and leather and yucca string. That’s the Anasazi.


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Historial Fiction

Unblemished Snake Boys

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

The boys hustled out of the village and climbed the short cliff to the broken ground above.

“We saw three sunning themselves up there, remember?” The oldest boy led them and did the talking. The middle boy nodded.

The smallest boy said, “I don’t remember anybody sunning themself.”

“You were sick then, I think,” said the oldest.

When they came to the rock with the black hole yawning beneath it, they slowed and stepped more carefully, except for the youngest, who skipped from rock to rock. “How are we going to catch it?” he asked.

“The priest said no blemishes,” said the middle boy. “What are ‘blemishes’?”

“It means we can’t pierce its skin or cut it or anything,” said the older boy.

“Why not?” asked the youngest.

“I don’t know,” said the oldest. “To keep its spirit from leaking out or something.”

The boys saw it at the same instant and froze. “Wow,” said the older boy. “That’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.”

“It must be the grandfather,” said the middle boy.

“The great-grandfather,” said the youngest.

The snake turned its head as if it saw them and raised its rattle but didn’t make it buzz. The boys squatted and watched. After a while, the snake settled and lowered its tail.

“How do we get it?” whispered the youngest.

“Run up and grab its tail,” said the oldest.

The eyes of the youngest grew large. “I’m not doing that. It’s bigger than I am.”

“It’s bigger than all of us put together,” said the middle boy.

“We’ll wait until it crawls away and I’ll grab its tail,” said the oldest. The two younger boys looked at him as if they’d never truly seen him before.

After the day warmed, the snake slid off the big rock and began winding its way through smaller stones. The oldest boy surged ahead, wrapped both hands around the tail above the rattle and pulled. The thick snake coiled, its head anchored in the rocks, and pulled the boy forward. “Help!” he called. The middle boy came and pulled the older boy’s waist. Together, they straightened out the coil, the snake’s head still firmly among the rocks. The youngest boy jumped around behind them, waving his arms.

A stone broke loose and the boys fell back as the snake coiled its head back toward them.

“No!” yelled the youngest. He lunged forward and kicked the snake’s head just as it began a strike toward the oldest boy’s thigh. The boys scrabbled away on all fours, the oldest still holding the tail, and he dragged the snake behind him. The middle boy helped, and they ran toward the village, the body of the snake bouncing behind, its head coiling toward its tail but not able to reach the boys. The youngest ran behind flapping his arms, shouting, “We got it! We got it!”

When they ran into the village, women screamed and ran up ladders to the rooftops and the men formed a circle around the boys and laughed and shouted instructions. The snake had become more lethargic, but still tried to arrange itself into a tight coil. The younger boy danced around the head flapping his arms as if the snake had cast a bird spell on him. The boys continued to drag the snake in circles to prevent it from coiling back on them.

A man threw a stick near them and the younger boy got it behind the head and stood on it while the other two boys pulled it out as straight as they could. The snake’s muscles bulged and turned beneath its shiny skin.

While the boys huffed and puffed, the priest and village chief inspected the snake from head to tail.

“This is the biggest, most impressive rattling snake we have ever had,” said the priest. The chief wrapped twine around the snake’s jaws and other men helped the boys stuff it into a large clay pot with a lid.

That night around the fire, the boys told the story over and over, the men laughing and the women squealing at the appropriate places.

Then the priest stood and quieted everyone and called for the boys to stand before him. He smudged their foreheads with cedar ashes and in a solemn, chanting voice gave them new temporary names until they reached puberty:

Suqlanga, Snake Tail Puller, for the oldest.

Suqaya, Snake Helper, for the middle boy.

Suqtava, Snake Head Kicker, for the youngest.

Decades later when migration time had come, the three once again caught a big, unblemished snake, brought it back to the village, cut off its head, and arranged its still-writhing body on the floor of their childhood kiva. The entire village watching, they set the roof beams on fire, which were hard to ignite. They stood around the flames that night until the roof caved in after first light.

Then they turned and walked away without looking back.

# # #

Is the ending too abrupt? Note that many (perhaps most) Anasazi villages look like the people just suddenly walked away after burning their kivas. In one ruin near the Four Corners area, the skeleton of a rattlesnake appears to be ceremonially laid out on the floor of the kiva before the roof was burned. This incomplete snippet of a story is part of my grand attempt to grapple with what it looked and felt like to live in a society that migrated so much and, apparently, so easily.


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Historial Fiction

Sumtovi, Son of the High Priest

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

Before the High Priest came to power, a long line of sky chiefs declared the supremacy of the center place as defined by the movements of the sun and moon and stars. This, they claimed, meant that the sky gods insisted upon the ruler of The People to reside in a specific site inside Totec Canyon.

But the sky chiefs ruled by knowledge rather than power. When refugees from collapsing societies far to the south arrived in the villages south of the canyon, the man who became the High Priest saw the potential of skilled warriors. He enlisted the help of Pok in channeling the ultra-violence of the southern refugee warriors into a revolutionary force that crushed the dynasty of the sky chiefs and took control of the entire region. The southern villages outside Totec Canyon embraced the new guard, and they formed the Southern Alliance.

Cracks in the solidarity of the Southern Alliance first appeared in the Village of Black Stone, childhood home of the High Priest, and the place to which Pok migrated from the north. Sumtovi, eldest son of the High Priest, believed he should lead the Másaw warriors, not Pok.

“He is not even from the South,” Sumtovi argued to his father. “His blood is that of the sky watchers!”

“I need you here. I must have unquestioned support from my own home village.” He had just been elevated to High Priest by enthusiastic acclamation of the Southern Alliance, with reluctant assent by the weaker alliances to the west and north. The east had been left intentionally uninhabited to give the rising sun unfettered approach to Totec Canyon.

“Pok will turn against you,” Sumtovi said. Age had not yet softened his anger.

“You want to sit with me in power in the Great House, I know that,” said the High Priest. “But you can do me far more good here.”

“But who will protect you from Pok? He will turn on you. He is loyal to nothing and no one.”

“That is exactly why he is right to be the top Másaw Warrior. He believes only in the power of violence, and all subtle things are lost on him. He has no allies and no friends, he has killed every wife and child given him, and he dismisses every god but the one of war. His warriors fear and therefore respect him. Yet he has no spiritual power. I will rule that realm completely.”

“But how will you protect yourself from him?”

“You and the Southern Alliance will protect me from him. And the household workers I select. Never underestimate the power of the cook, my son. A few choice herbs from a plant master placed into food can make a man do almost anything.”

“Then perhaps I should be there to protect you from your cook.”

The High Priest laughed and slapped his son on the shoulder. “You become the supreme leader of this village and the first voice in the Southern Alliance Council, and I will become the supreme spiritual ruler of Totec Canyon. That’s how we will gain and hold the most power. That will protect us. Pok is just a tool.”

Sumtovi sighed, then agreed. He watched his father and his large entourage leave for a new life at the Great House, just recently cleansed of the sky watchers by Pok and his army. Sumtovi vowed to find every way he could to keep track of Pok and to protect his father.

# # #

This is a completely different take on Sumtovi than in last week’s FridayFlash. It feels more solid to me as an element in my bigger story. If you read last week’s story, what do you think?


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Historial Fiction

Sumtovi Sends a Spy

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

The perfect gathering of men, two times the six directions, sat knee-to-knee in the round room, a glowing fire in the center. Twelve groups of twelve attendants camped in a ring around the underground room, eyeing each other, waiting for the first to break protocol and begin the exchange of news and gossip. The twelve largest villages in the six directions, each without its leader and top twelve men, were themselves surrounded by small clan villages of farmers. The younger farmers, especially, resented the tribute they paid of more than half their crops. Nothing particularly good happened when they delivered their contributions, but if they should fail to satisfy the High Priest, they suffered punishment more horrible than anything in their long tradition — entire villages destroyed by crazed warriors.

Like their attendants above ground, the council of twelve sat in silence, waiting for the first man to speak. No chief ruled them. No administrator cajoled them. No servants waited on them.

“I have a matter,” said one. All eyes went to the man, Sumtovi, chief of the Village of Dark Stone, the closest to Totec Canyon, the center of their world. “In the Great House of our High Priest, the woman he calls his Goddess of the Future and an albino healer woman advise him behind our backs. We must do something.”

“What do you propose?” asked another elder.

“We need a spy who will tell us what these women are doing and if they are misleading our High Priest,” said Sumtovi.

The men of the council agreed having more information made sense. One of them spoke a question. “What do we do if we discover they are evil of heart and are working to undermine our High Priest? And what do we do if they are good for him?”

Another elder from the village farthest to the south said, “If they are good, we should bring them to the council and find out what they know. If they are evil, we must make them into woman corn and feed them to our enemies.”

“Who do you propose for our spy?” another elder asked Sumtovi.

“I have a grandson who is as fleet of mind as he is of foot. We shall send him.”

They agreed without dissent and the council became once again quiet as they waited for the next man to speak.

Days later, when Sumtovi’s grandson left the Village of Dark Stone to spy on the High Priest, a stranger followed, the youngest son of a farmer whose entire village had been eliminated for failing to deliver enough corn.

In the middle of the moonless night, the farmer boy captured, tortured, and interrogated Sumtovi’s grandson and his two attendants. He took the better clothes of the grandson and left their bodies in an abandoned badger hole. He told the guards at the Great House that bandits had killed his servants and that he had barely escaped with his life.

The High Priest sent a runner escorted by warriors to Sumtovi, who verified that he’d sent his grandson on behalf of the council to sit for a time in the High Priest’s court.

“I see you,” the Goddess of the Future told the farmer boy, and described what had happened to his village. He burst into tears and the albino woman held him like a baby.

When Sumtovi sent a runner for a report from his grandson, the farmer boy refused to meet him, but sent a message that Sumtovi and the council had nothing to fear from the Goddess of the Future and the albino healer.

# # #

When I lose my vision or get bogged down in my novel-in-progress, I write FridayFlash scenes to try and gain clarity (that’s why I have as many as a dozen of these prepared at any given time). This is just such an exercise. Next week, I explore a different scenario for Sumtovi, a new character.

I’m also toying with tone and POV here. This is a highly impersonal tone, almost distractedly removed from the characters (except, perhaps, when the farmer boy breaks into tears and Nuva comforts him). Is it too distant?


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Historial Fiction

The Hoona Alliance

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

When the sun dagger pointed its blade of light at the mid-summer’s mark, the village chiefs from the Southern Alliance met with the village chiefs from the Northern and Western alliances. For a month, workers from the clans within the alliances scent stonemasons to build their ceremonial kivas in the foundation block of the Totec Canyon great house, which had been under construction for a generation.

Three days before the feasting began, each alliance responsible for one day, the Northern Alliance last, in honor of The People’s origins from the north.

But the true power discussions began hidden in a dim but cool back room of the great house, where the top chiefs and their top advisers smoked dried hoona plant supplied by the southerners. The first day they laughed uncontrollably and got nothing done. The second day they mastered their laughter but consumed all the sweet corn dumplings that had been prepared for the last day of the feast. The last day, they mastered their hunger and gave themselves new names.

Southern Horizon claimed he should rise to the top seat of power, and after a whispered conversation between Northern Star and Western Glow, they agreed, under the condition that special runners be sent to them during the snow-free months to keep them supplied with hoona plant.

“It will be so,” said Southern Horizon, standing to emphasize his rank over the others. “In exchange for hoona, those from the west will supply timbers for constructing this great house and those from the north will supply game and labor.”

Western Glow, his eyes glassy, said, “We will fell the timber, but you northerners must carry it.”

Northern Star, who had drunk a considerable quantity of corn beer in additional smoking several large bowls of hoona, said, “The clouds are dark,” and passed out.

Western Glow and Southern Horizon looked at him with envy and power-quaffed corn beer and kept bowls of hoona glowing until they, too, passed out. The advisers followed suit, save for one, a straight thin man with a crude tattoo on his forehead showing a full moon rising between two columns of stone. He stood as still as a column of stone until the light faded with evening and Southern Horizon woke with a start and sat up. He blinked his eyes at the standing man.

“Who are you to be standing over us?”

“I am Kwa, sky watcher from the Village of the Twin War Gods.”

“Sit down before you embarrass yourself.”

“I stand.”

“Sit down!” Southern Horizon bellowed with such volume that it woke the others except for a couple of advisers.

“What?” asked Western Glow. Northern Star glared at Kwa, but said nothing.

“This inferior sky watcher has the nerve to stand over us,” said Southern Horizon.

Western Glow rubbed his eyes and looked at Kwa. “What is the meaning of this?”

“I have something to tell you,” said Kwa.

“We discussed this,” said Northern Star. “Now is not the time.”

“Now is the time,” said Kwa. “I am leaving now. I have more important duties back at the Twin War Gods.”

Northern Star made a slashing gesture, indicating he cut himself off from anything Kwa might do.

“Supplicants must come to us on their knees,” said Southern Horizon, his voice as rough as gravel.

“Through the cliffs of the Twin War Gods,” said Kwa, “I have recorded the movement of the moon over eighteen-and-one-half years, when it repeats its cycle.” Kwa spoke with his chin up and did not make eye contact with anyone. “Falcons, messengers to the stars, nest on the cliff faces of the Twin War Gods. There is more there to see and learn of the spirits in the sky. In lieu of logs and labor, we will offer knowledge of what we know of the sky spirits.”

Southern Horizon shook his head. “We have the light daggers on Sun Mesa. We need no more knowledge.”

“As you wish,” said Kwa. He turned to go.

“Wait,” said Northern Star. “He is wrong to be so brash, but what he says is important.”

Southern Horizon made a hawk-and-spit sound.

“I will trade labor for your knowledge,” said Northern Star.

Western Glow looked from Northern Star to Southern Horizon, and finally nodded. “I will trade logs for your sky spirit knowledge.”

“And I will not trade hoona for your insolence,” said Southern Horizon.

Kwa looked them each in the eye then and held their gaze. Southern Horizon looked away quickly and pouted. Northern Star narrowed his eyes, but finally nodded. Western Glow held his look only a moment before nodding and looking away.

“We will build a bonfire when anything of significance happens,” said Kwa. “If you are interested, send runners.” With that he left their presence and did not look back.

# # #

I use Twin War Gods a lot in these stories. Do you realize this means a pair of twin cliffs or spires, known in the present day as Chimney Rock, Colorado (see the picture at the top of my blog)? Or am I losing people by this reference?

Note: Hoona is derived from the Hopi word for “intoxicate,” hoonaqtoyna. Kwa is derived from kwa(’at), in which the ’ indicates a glottal stop, and which means “Grandfather.” Kwa is the father of the main character of my novel, called “Grandfather.”


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, Historial Fiction, Hopi, Pagosa Springs


An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

“People worry too much about getting lost,” said The Pochteca. He’d removed his red swaddling hat and his square-armed cotton shirt studded with tiny copper bells that made him the most recognizable traveling trader in the country.

“If you don’t know where we’re going, then we’re lost,” said Sowi, a fast-running, gangly legged boy with no fear of asking questions.

“Where are we?” asked The Pochteca, looking around and raising his arms in question. He wore the half-smile that rarely left his lips and that seemed to elevate his being. The Pochteca seemed to enjoy almost everything.

“Right here,” said Sowi.

“You are gaining wisdom every day. And where are we going?” The Pochteca leaned back into a bed of ferns that his small army of orphans and misfits, the burden-bearers for the goods he traded, had gathered for him. He had become the surrogate father of a very large family with no mother.

“To a place where people stack stones into big piles,” said Sowi.

The Pochteca laughed loud, and the older girls washing his clothes at the creek looked at him, one shading her eyes with her hand.

“Piles of stones!” He laughed hard again. “That’s good. Piles of stone that dwarf the piles of stone you’ve seen in Totec Canyon. These are mountains of laid stone with stairs that climb nearly to the stars and with altars and shrines on top. People wear clothes as brightly colored as my hat, but of many different colors. They wear jewelry of shiny yellow metal and polished stones of every shape and kind. The fields of corn are three times taller than the corn here, and water is more common than dust. That’s where we’re going. And since we know that, and we know we’re here, we are not in the least bit lost.”

The Pochteca laid his head back and closed his eyes.

“So which way do we go from here?” asked Sowi.

“South,” said The Pochteca without opening his eyes.

A sheer cliff rose across the stream to the south and ran as far east and west as could be seen. “How do we get over the cliff?”

“I don’t know.”

“How will we find out how?”

“I don’t know.”

“So we’re stuck. And lost.”

The corner of The Pochteca’s mouth turned down and he scratched his face, still without opening his eyes. “I think only Sowi is stuck and lost. The rest of us know if we walk from here, we will always get there.”

“It’s like the drawings on the rocks,” said Sowi. “We walk in spirals and never get anywhere.”

“We got here.”

“Is this where we were going?”

“Wherever we are is always where we were going.” The Pochteca’s voice had lost its power as he drifted toward sleep.

Sowi jumped up. “I’m going to go find a way over the cliff.”

The Pochteca opened his eyes, looked at Sowi, then closed them. “Good idea.”

Sowi jogged away and a fly landed on The Pochteca’s face and made it to the corner of an eye before he slapped it away. He looked around and saw Sowi and a few other boys making their way to the cliff. He smiled and lay back again into the soft fronds of fern. “I’ve never been lost a moment in my life,” he murmured. The fly returned to his face and crept in a spiral toward his eye.

# # #

What do you think of the point of view here? It’s kind of a close-in limited omniscient. Does that work for you?

Note: As explained in Wikipedia, “A pochtecatl (plural pochteca) was a professional long-distance traveling merchant in the Aztec Empire.” I’ve abused the word a bit by making it into a singular pronoun. While there’s no evidence to my knowledge that such a traveling merchant class existed in the world of the Anasazi, there’s plenty of evidence that long-distance trade took place.


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Historial Fiction


An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

Blue, Chumana thought and opened her eyes. Only the sound of Nuva breathing from her sleeping mat at the other corner and the faintest of orange twinkles in the fire gave the room depth in the blackness.

But in her mind, she felt a crystalline blue unlike anything she’d experienced in life, unlike anything the desert world of Totec Canyon had to offer.

Once as a child in the forest of the northern mountains, he father had brought her a bird and in its eye lived a liquid blue like what woke her mind.

She sat upright, crossed her legs, and let her backbone sag. She matched her breathing to Nuva’s sleep rhythm and in her mind two figures appeared in her blue bubble. She knew them: Tuwa and Choovio grown into men. They stood on a mesa overlooking Totec Canyon. Tuwa raised his arm and waved, and blue sand filled the canyon until nothing but a mound of blue remained. Tuwa had no choice, she thought without understanding, yet still he seemed sad. He turned and walked north, Choovio following, until they disappeared.

“You’re going home,” Chumana said to Tuwa’s back.

“What?” asked Nuva in drowsy alarm.


“Who’s going home?”

Chumana breathed deep and played the blue scene again through her mind, and then she told it to Nuva.

They sat in silence until Chumana heard the sounds of early cooks in the other rooms.

“What does it mean?” asked Chumana. “Will Tuwa ever come back? And what is the blue?”

“The color of the sky when it is not dark or blinded by noonday sun,” said Nuva. “Tuwa is a skywatcher. His power is the sky. He will use his power to snuff out everything that is not of the sky in Totec Canyon.”

“And then he’ll go home.”

“And we will go with him.”

“Oh, I hope so. I hope so.”

“We will. You have seen it.”

“I didn’t see us go with him.”

“Do you think he will go without you? I know what’s in the boy’s heart. It’s always been you, Chumana.”

“Unless he doesn’t know I live and that I’m here.”

“Then we must find a way to make him know.”


“I don’t know.”

Someone unloaded an armload of firewood onto the floor in the cooking room down the hallway.

“You’ll see a way,” said Nuva.

“I’ll dream of blue,” whispered Chumana. “He will come to me in blue.”

# # #

Does the eye of the bird help your mental image, or is it extraneous?


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, Historial Fiction

Albino Promenade

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

Grandfather introduced the albino woman, Nuva, by slow-step promenade through the village, the infant Tuwa clutched in the arms of his new surrogate mother. There being no ceremony for such a thing, Grandfather improvised.

He proceeded from his house nearest the dual sandstone spires that rose like steeples from the northeastern edge of the mesa, and wound his way along every pathway past every dwelling.

At the house of the top farmer lived the eldest woman, Wooti, grandmother to the farmer. She’d heard the twitter of the children as they ran and hid and peeped to watch Grandfather and the strange white woman.

Wooti studied Nuva’s red eyes and her hands and legs, and then turned her back. Grandfather stopped.

“Wooti,” Grandfather said.

“You bring us a witch?” she asked without facing Grandfather.

“I bring a mother for my grandson.”

“You bring us a witch.” A statement this time.

“I would not and have not brought anything to this village that will do us harm. Do you doubt my judgment?”

Wooti’s hands dropped to her side. “I have never until now.”

“Nuva is no witch!” Grandfather’s voice rose in anger.

Wooti turned to Grandfather. “Do not shout at me, old man. I have as much sense as you do, and your white woman is infected with … something not good.” She glanced at Nuva, then turned her back again, arms across her chest.

Grandfather stood, the village quiet but for the gargling calls of turkeys and the barking of a dog in the woods below. The infant fussed and Nuva comforted him. Grandfather stood until Wooti uncrossed her arms and her shoulders sagged.

“The something that is not good isn’t here among us,” Grandfather said so low he might have been speaking only to himself. Wooti turned her head to point her right ear toward him. “It is down there,” he said with a single nod to the south, “and it is growing.”

Grandfather began again his slow walk and all the women in the circle of Wooti, her family clan and her friends, turned their backs on Nuva, but Grandfather did not stop and said not another word.

# # #

Did any words pull you out of the setting or time of the story?

Note: The name Wooti is derived from the Hopi word wuyòoti, which means “get old.”  The dual sandstone spires are those of Chimney Rock, Colorado, the northeasternmost outlier of the Anasazi culture centered in Chaco Canyon.


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, Historial Fiction, Pagosa Springs

Anasazi Runner

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

Note: This is a sketch made in preparation for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My working title is “Anasazi Runner.” Synopsis: Native American boy abandoned at birth and raised by white parents is inspired when he visits Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, and becomes, in his mind, an Anasazi runner who completes the world’s first sub-two-hour marathon.

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“Kira thinks I’m Navajo like her.”

“Do you think you’re Navajo like her?”

Sean leaned across the table so others wouldn’t hear and mumbled, “No, I don’t.”

I looked around the restaurant. All white people but for one toothless guy of uncertain ancestry in the corner. I knew the Elkhorn cook was Navajo. The waitress, Jicarilla Apache. And the owner had a Ute grandfather. Always made me laugh to think of the cultural tangle inside that place.

Sean obviously didn’t want to be overheard, so I piped down to his level. “You tell her you think that?”

His eye went out the window and he half-shrugged. He shook his head.

“Why not?”

“I think she wants me to be Navajo. I think maybe she thinks she can make me into a Navajo.”

“You could be Navajo, I guess. Nobody knows.”

He tensed and pulled his cheeks back as if in pain. “I just don’t feel like it.”

I scratched my neck and blinked. I didn’t really know how to empathize with that kind of deep identity feeling. Generations of white-trash ancestors had bred all that out of me. “You show her your mamma’s disk?”

When his birth mother had died in the car wreck, she’d been wearing some kind of ceramic disk on her stomach, held in place by a leather thong. His adoptive parents gave it to him when he turned eighteen. It was the only thing he had that connected him to his mother.



He nodded. Good, I thought. Hiding things from your girlfriend isn’t a good sign. “She said I should put it back,” he said.

That shocked me, but the Jicarilla waitress brought us cups and coffee just then. I watched how she eyed Sean, but she didn’t do anything unusual. I always tried to notice how other Native Americans treated him. We ordered the usual, a half-dozen scrambled eggs with dry wheat toast for Sean, and a bowl of oatmeal and raisins for me.

I leaned closer to him when she left. “What does that mean, ‘put it back’?”

“She thinks it’s some kind of spirit-puller from the ancestral enemies.”

“Ancestral enemies? That’s what Anasazi means in Navajo. She thinks it’s Anasazi?”

He nodded. We drank coffee, not looking at each other. I didn’t expect that. I thought that disk had a modern usage and meaning. It looked old, but not ancient.

“Do you ever feel like it’s pulling something to you?”

Sean looked out the window at tourists taking pictures of the glistening mineral mound of one of the hot springs. “Kind of,” he said. “When I run. I feel this lightness in my chest. Like something is pulling me faster than I’m going.”

He drifted into silence, but I needed more than that. “Only when you’re running? Like a vision?”

Softly, almost to himself, he said, “Like I’m a runner for the king or top priest or whatever they had.”

“An Anasazi Runner.”

He nodded for a long time.

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This is my last National Novel Writing Month piece. Thanks for hanging in here with me as I shifted from historical fiction to present-day fiction. It’s been a fun ride.

A note about the image of the spirit-puller: It’s actually an Inuit carving in a piece of mammoth ivory that became exposed from the melting permafrost. It’s not ancient at all.


Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, NaNoWriMo, Pagosa Springs