Sunday, October 15, 2023

A Season Grown Darker

—Poetry by Kimberly Bolton, Jefferson City, MO
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

Hurrying out of the dead of night,
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
           a prayer,
           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
             and stones.
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
to himself,
               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.

Wa-kon-tah! Wa-kon-tah!
The drumbeat of our heart are hollow and empty.
               Without you in the world we have lost
               our way.

Wa-kon-tah! Wa-kon-tah!
Oh Great Spirit, where have you gone that we
might follow?

Where have you gone, Wa-kon-tah,
That we might pray you to save us from ourselves?

*Children of the Middle Waters


Today’s LittleNip:

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...

―Wilferd Peterson


—Medusa, with thanks to Kimberly Bolton for her fine poems of the Midwest and its history—including her own history.


A reminder that
The Poetry Club of Lincoln  
will present a reading by the
winners of its 2023 poetry contest
today, 2pm.
For info about this and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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 LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope
(A cookie from the Kitchen for today):
 carpet’s ablaze
with deep orange
amber ashes
from an
autumn sun