Sunday, February 24, 2013

Elegy by A Cree Sojourner (poem)

I am not afraid of being poor, being homeless…I’ve done that…
I am not afraid of breaking ribs (twice), my neck, my ankle, my skull…
been there done that…and feeling much better now
I am not afraid of having a gun pointed at me (3 times)
cause only one ever actually pulled the trigger…and he missed

I am not afraid of my mother going away, or my father or all my grandparents…
for those things happened a long time ago

I cannot say if in his lifetime, my father ever knew freedom
but in mine…he is free

It could be true that like history, it is by now well-established
that I am, as they say: an open book
and thankfully subject to revision
brother can you spare a dime?
hey man, change comes from within!

There is no longer fear of a broken heart or abandoned love
I know what those things are
I confess to the mercenary intentions
of having her soft lips on mine
there, I said it
what am I but one among this rogue species

like the mountains I have been shaped by time
in fact, I am here because of those long-gone, graceful ones
who somehow walk beside me still
in memory, in spirit
guiding me safely
through the no man’s land of my own good intentions,
to yet more meaningful ways of being
helping locate a measure of grace
during damp arthritic coastal mornings
learning to care for this temple bruised and battered through 43 winters,
grasping that there are surely now more sunsets
in the rear-view mirror than lie before me…
(but you never know)
yes, their presence comforts me
as I experience these fearsome markers of time

most days I have transcended my ancient wounds
free of that kind of pain
though the psychic tissue of scars will always remain,
just out of sight
clung to and kept in my own place of sacred things
summoned when needed to inform, to illuminate,
to be together during your own long dark night of the soul
for why else are we here?

and I stand shoulder to shoulder with front-line helpers and healers
who do the heavy lifting,
who understand that we will only heal together or die one by one
alone as individuals

as a man of the plains it is ironic that I am once again at the frontier
only this time at the borderline of the imagination
standing opposed to ones who elevate human constructs above the natural world
people unable or unwilling to understand
that the way you think about something changes the way it works –
I oppose worshipers at the altar of the holy market
with their inflationary interest in histories’ latest empire
they seem induced by some archaic voice stranded in time
a voice spouting authoritative versions of events
tenure-tracked versions of events
second-hand, borrowed and stolen knowledge
with concerns somehow vested
in salacious accounts of quote-unquote history

ideas are the currency in my trade
in this most crucial reclamation project

for some reason
the challenge seems to be to respect the ancestors and celebrate the living

do you see that it is the very rugged and elemental nature of this hard land
that makes the Indian heart and spirit so pliable?
It’s tough love from our first mother
I have no illusions of permanence and little time for regret,
despair is a sin against the imagination in places like this

my destiny is no longer shaped by others without shame
or without reverence for the things I am…I am the elements…
my life is a subterranean call, no – it is a demand for justice

I am not…but the way? -
the way is righteous
the truth is righteous

even in the city
I know places where can I sit alone among stones polished by mild-mannered rain
I can always locate a vantage point to watch the crows
and be moved by their nightly, spectral pilgrimage
through the great nation that is the sky

even in the city
I hear creator
in my daughter tapping keys on a piano in the next room

there are stations, thresholds and bridges
constructed by others before me that I cross
to arrive in places I could not possibly have gotten to on my own

I keep frequent company with other ways of thinking
road men and matriarchs who have all walked the long road
when necessary developed other modes of orienting themselves in
social and spiritual space
I seek counsel with those happily immersed in old-growth forests of the mind
who may yet teach me other ways
of interacting at all times with the earth itself
I am touched by these warriors of the heart and road

in this company there is space for you
in this company may you find watershed thoughts
of the sacred heart of the world –
come know what love is really like

and dream of worlds to come

© 2013 Champsteen Publishing

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