Moon at Midnight – Part XXXXX (day 2024)

(part XXXXIX)

When I returned home it had been decided that
One of the young women who had just come of age
Would take Runs Wild, Long Arrow’s eldest son,
To be her man
There was a bit of to-do about the village
As everybody began preparing
For the potlatch
They were different
Then what I knew as weddings
The host, in this case Long Arrow,
Would bestow gifts upon the guests
Based on their rank
In our own way we prepared some special things
For the family was very close to us
Willow was nearly every day helping Mercy
She would come home at night
And I could see her hands
Were worked to the bone making something or other
I would laugh kindly as I’d get
Some Buffalo fat and rub her hands for a while.

The potlatch was quite special for me
It was a bit similar to the ceremonies
I had witnessed the year before
But there were a lot of symbolic gestures
That I had to ask Willow the meanings of
I asked Willow if this is what it was like for her
When she took her man
And she smiled and squeezed my hand
And Moon Cow, who was right next to me too,
Winked at me and exaggerated about the grandeur
Of her ceremony
Explaining to me how ten thousand people arrived
From all the hills in every direction
And the ceremony lasted
For one full moon cycle
I only half disbelieved him
For I’d believe two moon cycles were even too short a time
To celebrate in honour of Willow
I had heard many times how honourable
Willow and Moon Cow’s father had been.

We stayed up late with drums and fire
And lots of dancing that everybody loved
It seemed to come and go in waves
The beat of the drums, size of the fire,
Sweat on my forehead
Ecstasy like I had never experienced before
I’d watch Willow dance with the other women
A dream for me, watching her smile and move
Showcasing the steps she had memorized as a young woman
It was a true celebration of souls uniting
Supported by the entire family,
I stuffed myself silly
Because Mercy had some girls
Endlessly circling with more and more food
For everyone to eat.

The next morning as I woke
The mid-Spring frost still hung heavy
And little curls of smoke
Ascended from the big fire
That had powerfully burnt the night before
I could see everywhere around
There were little shelters that we had erected
Preparing for the potlatch
For the visitors that had come
Which, to be truthful, wasn’t that much
On account of us being more isolated
From our friendly tribes
It’s hard to get word out when nobody’s out there
I walked the village
Lost in what seemed to be a dreamworld
Saying hello to the early risers I’d see rummaging around
Wondering to myself what it would be like
If Willow and I had a ceremony
When I came back inside our teepee
Willow was boiling some delicious smelling tea
And I sat down and just watched her for a while.

part XXXXXI

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