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Jake Skeets


For this piece, I thought a long time about how to reflect upon the current climate. But I don’t think another think piece about the calls for justice is doing those calls justice. The United States is being presented with clear, sharp facts: The United States is allowing people to die at the hands of police. The United States is allowing people to die at the hands of this virus. The United States is a machine of death. Those are facts, clear as day. Understanding and normalizing those facts is heavy. So I don’t know if there is a way to accurately talk about the way I feel and how I am doing.

I was shaken awake early this morning by a sleep-shattering thunderclap. The kind that almost knocks the breath out of you. I saw a few flashes of light and more thunder. I sat there, in both reverence and confused half-sleep delirium. I checked on my partner (he has a fear of lightning and thunder) and my dog Boomer. Both were fine. So as I adjusted myself to get back to sleep, I thought about how thunderstorms are often used to signify turmoil. I already talked about how media depictions of the Southwest always include a horizon shot of a thunderhead with long strands of heavy dark rain to signify the mystery and eeriness of the desert. Here, on the Navajo Nation, storms are coming blessings.

As we shift further into virtual spaces to continue our work as poets and writers, new challenges arise. For instance, in a reading to raise funds for the COVID-19 relief efforts on Navajo, I worried about my electricity going out. In Tsaile, AZ, the winds and storms can sometimes knock power out and these outages can last hours. Again, a coming storm was being used in a way that could negatively impact the current situation and I was the culprit. It’s hard to remind ourselves that storms bring blessings sometimes. Winds and storms are literally life. They bring moisture, pollinate, and contribute to the connected universe of all things within and around us. A tumbleweed untethered by wind gusts caused by the shifting air can travel several yards before crossing a highway and jolting a tired driver awake and reminding the driver to stay alert on the long roads that river through the landscapes.

Last night, after a long week that included two benefit readings for COVID-19 relief on Navajo and donating and sharing where I can to support the protests, I decided to go for a walk with my partner and our dog Boomer. The wind was gentle but the clouds were dark. There were a few sprinkles of rain and I asked my partner if we should continue with the walk.

“Are you afraid of the rain?” my partner asked.

“I guess not,” I think I answered.

The entire time, I kept thinking that we needed to race the storm home. We walked the entire trail that surrounds my college campus without a single rain drop. It wasn’t until early this morning that the storm finally let up and unleashed the pour, thunder, and lightning. My partner went for a morning run after it passed. I stayed behind to give my body a rest. I did walk outside for a moment to feel the morning cool and catch the after-rain scent. More storm clouds are brewing in the east and the wind has a slight kick in its step. More blessings, I thought.

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All images other than author photos and artist artwork ©Matthew Batt 2020