turtle rattle shakes
turtle rattle shakes
The mountains rise, bluer
blacker than real
against a faded sky.
The ancestors have fled these hills,
no orange eyes stare out of the night,
no voices of the trickster
take up chorus against the stars.
He strains mightily to hear the sound of a wolf. He knows the voice of coyote well, and here they are ever-present. But wolf is a different creature. He knows coyote will try to take the shape and voice of wolf. But an elder such as he can tell the difference. Wolf is his totem, and each day the man knows he grows closer to death. He wants to speak with wolf one last time, out here, among the sage and jackrabbits. He wants to sit with wolf and stare at the thickening moon and leave the wolf his story to impart to another generation.
The salmon people
don’t live here anymore
you have moved them
up the river, then inland
so they no longer need to wander.
do not swim here anymore
you have dammed the rivers
to draw out their power
and penned the mighty fish
where the river first licks the sea.
The eagle doesn’t
fly here anymore
the great pines
that sat for generations
below his aerie are now
cut into neat supports
on which we hang our walls.
do not run here anymore
they have moved
to the cities, have gone off
to wars for fighting
is the only job
which they are given.
We have no rivers
we have no salmon
we have no sons, save those
who sleep under neat white stones.
We look for the eagle
a mighty spirit
but he, too, has been claimed
by the others
to decorate their buildings.
We have only our spirit
to guide us and we know
that soon you will claim them too
and leave us as you arrived
to repeat the sad story.
The man sits, waiting patiently
for the wolf to arrive. It has
been far too long, this wait,
as the Wolf has his lair in
the distant mountain, and
has little use for the people
in the city, in the place
where the man sits waiting.
The man is sure they met once,
although he is now beginning to
wonder if it was simply coyote
assuming the shape
of his lupine imagination.
The man cannot or will not say
why he wishes to see the Wolf,
it is enough for him
to have the desire, and he knows
that once wolf arrives,
he and the Wolf together
will sing a piercing
song to the moon.
The hawks have been circling
more frequently of late,
but in the early autumn laziness
of merely riding the breezes
that seem to pick up in the mornings,
before the midday sun bids them
be calm so it can make its transit.
By afternoon, they tend to roost
high up in the giant pines, peering
down as the flow of people flows
along the paths seeking to grasp
the fading warmth and last blooms
for a few moments longer, and
as evening approaches the hawks
take flight again, knowing the moon
can move the tides, but is powerless
to change the winds which blow
when and where their sky mother chooses.
I sit outside, on the mesa
having watched the mauve, fuchsia
and coral sky finally concede to night.
The two orange orbs sit
twenty yards away, staring back
and in this moment coyote and I
have known each other for moments,
and for generations, and we are content.
Coyote tells me he was once
an elder living in the old adobe
buildings, how he was a shaman,
still is, with his magic, and I
tell him of how I walked for years
in the desert, food appearing
from heaven, of how I crossed the sea
and some thought it parted for me.
Coyote and I are both old
and we know we each have stories
that no one would believe, and
so we are left to believe each other
and tell our stories to the sky gods.