—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA
the river races to catch up with the sunrise,
as I would hasten toward it if I could,
with summer limping out of the way of another
trees touched by a bit of baleful wind,
and leaves falling soundlessly to their death.
The moon turns its face away from the
bright countenance of the sun,
the earth softening in its warmth.
This river marks the beginning, middle, and end
of my life, of my place here in my ancestral
I know no other, though I once longed to leave it
far and away in the past.
But this, after all, is where you will find my ghost
when I die, down on the muddy shores of the
sitting under the stars, beneath an old river birch,
a luminous autumn moon grinning down at me,
because we are both where we are supposed to be,
and happy to be there.
Autumn, and I love knowing there is more to come,
a season grown darker, deeper, more intense,
to affect every emotion I hold within myself,
when death presses a little closer to whisper
in my ear.
Rarely, do I feel more darkly spellbound
than I do during autumn,
to possess a deeper understanding of where I
belong in the grand scheme of things.
I am a different person in the daylight
than at night when the moon and stars hold sway.
It is nearly impossible to believe on nights
such as this,
after the trees have spent themselves of leaves
the day long,
that the past has changed me for the better,
and how it has kept its distance all these years.
That old Osage Indian,
Indefatigable warrior of earth,
Long lost child of the Nee Oh-kan-shkan*,
I see his ghost sometimes on the white bluff
above the river,
lifting his face to the sun,
sunlight washing through him, within him,
as he sings his sacred song, which is really
that is carried out into the world on the
currents of the wind.
His ancient song quickens the river with silver
all that remains of Wa-kon-tah.
His song of mourning is simple and sad.
He sings to and of the earth,
and the earth weeps with him.
He mourns the great violations inflicted
upon a land
that is nothing more than remnants of a memory
Wa-kon-tah has taken away with him wherever
he has gone.
The leveled hills.
The felled trees.
The mountains emptied of precious metals
The poisoning of the waters.
The eyesore of landfills tainting the countryside.
The smog that smothers the sun from
factories hell-bent on profit.
The very air filled with every kind of noise,
so that the voice of Wa-kon-tah is no
longer heard in the land.
His song is integral to who he is and was in life.
His love of the earth he has taken with him unto
death and beyond.
In this once sacred place, he shares his
anguish and its accompanying despair.
His lament, my lament.
His great heartache is become my own.
For what is lost is never to return.
His song is flung into the depths of the sky.
He throws his arms wide, gathers the sun
his arms melding into wings,
And suddenly the warrior is no longer there,
but a red-tailed hawk swooping down from
the river bluff,
skimming over the silver-backed water,
then takes flight upwards, and up,
disappearing into the sun.
The drumbeat of our heart are hollow and empty.
Without you in the world we have lost
Oh Great Spirit, where have you gone that we
Where have you gone, Wa-kon-tah,
That we might pray you to save us from ourselves?
*Children of the Middle Waters
Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it...
—Medusa, with thanks to Kimberly Bolton for her fine poems of the Midwest and its history—including her own history.
The Poetry Club of Lincoln
will present a reading by the
winners of its 2023 poetry contest
For info about this and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
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