The air in my lungs feels toxic sometimes, like it hurts to breathe. The memories leave me gasping for air and with every breath that I take, it feels like I’m swallowing pine cones. Every breath feels like I’ve just finished a bottle, but I have not lost. So I concentrate and with every breath I remember the smell of the red woods, the smell of dirt—the color of my flesh.
It feels like I’m carrying the half dome on my back. It is heavy like a rock, with edges as sharp as thorns, but smooth as diamonds. The memories flow like a river, coming into contact with everything that crosses its path. But these memories, like water, breed life, sustain life. Because native is never cruel, it just is.