Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Medicine stone

We four left
tobacco offerings
in the wind worn clefts
of the medicine stone
near the cliff base
paying necessary respect
feeling its smoothness
polished by six thousand years
of brown plains bison
scratching shaggy coats
against it
rubbing in endless circles,
hooves wearing a deep rut
ringing the base
following an instinct
still favoured by
far more domestic cattle
their dim cow minds
perhaps grasping wisps
of the spirits
of their departed
wilder ancestors.

Then we
two men, two women
scrambled the hard climb
handing each other up
to the exposed topland
spring Chinook wind slicing
from the west
fingering petroglyphs carved
by the stone tool tribes
that each autumn
from before dim time began
gathered behind stone cairns
to drive herds of huge bison
from headlands miles back
down funnelling collector lanes
and over the cliff face
here
carefully butchering and
rendering them into
everything
that sustained them
winter pemmican
teepee covers,
boiling pots
horn cups
leather clothing,
bone beads and
needles and sinews
for sewing them.

We who live here now
crouched down in the thin sun
in a sheltered place away from
the bittering wind
between tumbled
sandstone boulders
in this place
of old power accumulated
and with simple ceremony
poured a sacramental taste
of red wine
to the earth mother
that still rules here
then made a meal
sharing the rest of the bottle
among us with bread and cheese,
backs against the inscribed rocks
drawing from them warmth
and other energy
becoming comfortable
two couples casually wrapped
facing each other
sharing words
becoming drowsy.

"We should just stay here..."
the dreamer spoke up
suddenly an oracle
in a faded felt hat.

"We're out of sandwiches,"
said my practical mate,
"and we'll get hungry."

"No,"
he said,
certain.

"We'll live
here
forever
on stones
and love."

2 comments:

molina said...

that was a beautiful day. still have the hat -- it's even more faded now...

coyote said...

It's still a great hat....