by William Oandasan

around the house stood an
orchard of plum, apple and pear
a blackwalnut tree, one white pine,
groves of white oak and willow clumps
the home of Jessie was largely redwood

blood, flesh and bone sprouted
inside her womb of redwood
for five generations
the trees now stand unpruned and wild

after relocating so many years before the War
the seeds of Jessie have returned

afternoon sunlight on the field
breezes moving grass and leaves
memories with family names wait
within the earth, the mountains,
the valley, the field, the trees

SOURCE: “Grandmother’s Land” appears in William Oandasan’s collection Round Valley Songs (West End Press, 1984), available at

IMAGE: “Light Coming Through Redwood Trees” by Kaj R. Svennson. Prints available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Of mixed Yuki and Filipino heritage, William Oandasan (1947-1992) was a member of the Yuki tribe of Round Valley, California. An advocate for Native American writers, he founded A Press in 1976 and edited A: A Journal of Contemporary Literature. He is the author of the poetry collections Taking Off (1976), Sermon & Three Waves: A Journey Through Night (1978), Moving Inland, A Cycle of Lyrics (1983), Round Valley Songs (1984) — winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation — Round Valley Verses (1987), and Summer Night (1989).