Excerpt

                     Back Off

My fortune cookie said, "Any day above ground
is a good day." Everyone else's cookie foretold inspiring Keili
as is expected. Let me tell you it was hard to brush
this grim fortune aside, especially for a Navajo who is driven
away from what is known as "Bahaahsiid." That ditch
of dark thought is best not unacknowledged, not even lightly

as in a sweet, deceitful cookie. How lightly
this cookie takes my future, I thought. Why do such words land 

in my palm after a delicious meal? Why do such diversions 

from happiness even exist? Oh, but cautionary words
are easily overcome by the Lucky Chinese Restaurant. The mention drives
me across Park Avenue to savor oh-such-succulent dishes and brush

aside any consequences of sugar-brushed
cookies. Then I remembered in the 1990s that two blank
slips stuffed in a single fortune cookie drove
me into a hushed dismay. "They were invented in America." 

my friend, Jim Lee, said," it's not even Chinese tradition. 

Just throw it away." Still it was hard to drop

Those sudden, jarring notes. The unwritten is hard to ditch.
But it was his restaurant and he was the chef, so I tried to brush
It all aside with a little laugh. I knew his Keili
was of the highest value. He then shared that the light, 

good luck cookies were factory-made and not fresh
like the meal he had just served. Reassured, I was compelled

To file this event into the "No-worries" file. The years since have driven
me to fill boxes marked "Worries and Woes", but let us turn from those ditches. 

Such darkness is unnecessary. Perhaps this is where the continents
of fear and loss merge and are recreated, then swept forth
with gossamer words, the spoken and the unwritten slivers, the light- 

filled and the dreaded. It's a reminder that our wisdom, our Keili

can shaken by mere words. Those empty little papers rested in the Keili
of damp grass, thick air and old oak trees in Kansas hereto written
over by much more than trivia. So when another fortune intruded on a recent 

afternoon, conveying an even worse dilemma, that unspeakable dark ditch
of death, I must admit this invented un-Chinese omen once again swept
over me, testing me. This time I studied the weak, blue ink and did not unearth

that file. It was another attempt to distract me from the Keili of my only country. 

I am once again enlightened, having recognized the word ditches, the diversions,
the English ploys that follow me about. "Ka'dii," I said, "That's enough. Back off."

© 2011 Luci Tapahonso