What is the West?

Tasha LeClair

"Living in the West means living in the unhome that it is. It means, often, calling things by the wrong names. It means where there is an empty house, something has come along and swept the people out of it. It means nothing so different from the rest of this place. Uranium in the Water; Police Search Six Native American Students at the University Bookstore; Her Remains. That doesn't mean you don't keep looking for a place for your love to go. That doesn't mean Grandpa and I pushing the cows up the ridge where there was no trail at all, and the baby owls hopping around the corral, and that eerie valley where the cliff-face glares down over the tops of aspens shivering in their shadows—that doesn't mean those things never existed. It doesn't mean Grandpa, Eastern Shoshone, wasn't called to fight a war for this country at a time when white business owners freely displayed “No Indians or Dogs” signs in their store windows. Maybe you disassociate. Maybe you split. How can you not. How can I not question my claim. The dirt slips right through your thirsty, seeking parts.

 

Good.

 

*

 

So why don't I tell you what I see out my window.

 

Mountains pushing up, fog pushing down. That old tension. And the power-lines cutting the sky, the mountains, the houses and trees into sections, into something I can almost understand. Brown leaves clotted in hard snow. At half past five, the fog rolls down, the mountains roll back." 

Tasha LeClair grew up in the Crowheart community of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Her work has appeared in such places as The Gettysburg Review, Bodega, and Hobart . She's a graduate of the University of Wyoming's MFA program in creative writing and lives in Montana, where she's writing a horror novel. She keeps a blog at prairietown.wordpress.com