~image of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration property in Pacific Grove, CA

The bones of my grandmother

The bones of my grandfather

The bones of the Esselen

The bones of the Ohlone Costanoan

The bones of the Rumsen


This land tilled, taken

Our ancestors still lie, together

Coastal, beauty

Country club laughter


Of what lies beneath


Hundreds of years ago

Spanish grants

Relocating the rooted

Tortured and “cultured”

In sandy walls deemed holy

Still I remember the echoing bells

And fascination of child eyes


Through the mission

On Sunday afternoons



Called back here

By tribe, ally

To these same sandy dunes

Hundreds of years later

The bones are in danger


Standing on

Contested land

Broken treaties, how does this still go on?

I lean in

Across lichen laced barriers

Spirits of Hummingbird, Yarrow



Don’t act

Just listen

Don’t act

Just listen

Don’t act

Just listen


Whose voice?

My grandmother

My grandfather

Ancient peoples?

My Self?

Who calls me?

Who speaks to me?

Can I ever really know?



Well and healed ancestors

Why am I called back to this land

Where I look to the right

Under manicured lawn

European privileged kin

And to the left

Through chainlinks

The untouched dunes in danger

With your bones

With their bones

With our bones

How do my bones

Holding me tall



The waves crash

And I pray

And silence is all there is

As I stand here

On top of bones

Original bones

Beneath Cypress-studded vastness

Ancient grounds

That may not last

Much longer


Do I really




This poem was inspired by the recent contested sale of the NOAA building in Pacific Grove, CA. For more information on this issue you can go here:

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