In the great time of y’or
When my Grandfather Thick Neck
Roamed these wild lands
His deer were thousands strong
And each Autumn they’d collect
From all four corners of
His vast kingdom
He had roamed all Summer
And would gather near
The great Big River
To Winter in collective warmth
The power was in their numbers
It was impossible for predators
To attack such a strong group
And in the darkest days of Winter
They had fellow deer
To remind each other
Of the bountiful Summer days
Coming soon again.
In the great time of y’or
My inevitable spring
Slopes Eastward from here
Awakened by long train stops
Eclipsing my moon
Which cannot bare to withhold
Another day without you
But without silent winter
I cannot let go of autumn
So carefully pruned
As knitters of cocoons
Lay under aurora borealis
To watch Icarus
Climb as a nighthawk
Like my midnight winter moon
Lost in a scape of twinkling
And gravitas bound.
Mountain Chief was very interested
To hear what news Frank had to share
He had made a trip of his own
To meet with neighbouring Chiefs
He had already made contact with
That lived relatively close by
He wasn’t surprised by anything
As he had heard a lot of it already
He still had the rogue miners on his mind
He told us that after we left
He went to visit the location
Where Tall Pine and I had caught up
With the rogue miners
He said when they had got there
There was hardly anything left of the bodies
Eaten by the scavengers already.
Every day we felt winter coming quicker
And before we knew, it was upon us
It was colder then the usual winters
On the traditional land we had stayed last year
But luckily we had kept all of the furs
And blankets to keep us warm
We were surrounded by trees
That we had taken logs, branches
And even busied ourselves cutting a few
So that we could burn it all winter.
All in all, though, we were all happy
We had food, heat, and love
It was nice to be with Willow
She made me a very lucky man
And it was pure joy to watch Lily grow
Exploring more and more on her own
But always with those big eyes listening
Moon Cow was frequently in our teepee
And it was clear how much he loved all of us too
And Long Arrow would join us frequently with Mercy
Who was as much in our teepee as Willow was in hers.
It was a different life,
I reflected upon this often
How much different it was
Than any life I had ever dreamed
Could I ever have guessed this when I started East
Almost two years ago now?
I awoke early with Moon Cow
To ask him if I could take his horse
I told him I was going
To go to see Amy & Frank
See how they were setting into autumn
I had hardly been able to sleep
My mind was racing and ignited
And I definitely didn’t want to
Step on any feet in my new family
How could I know?
I only had vague introduction to their culture
And could only have my own reference
With the culture I was brought up in
I wasn’t naive enough to think
I knew how to fit in just yet,
Accepted as I was.
I hoped spending the day with Amy, Frank, and Clarinet
Would answer many questions for me
Being with them filled me with so much gratitude
So much love and respect for the family unit
But this was different
Than family life of the Blackfoot
Would Willow and Lily homestead with me?
How far ahead of myself I had gotten.
They could tell I had something troubling me
Amy said: “Joe, I think the full moon is on your mind.”
I kind of looked at her surprised
Using the moonlight last night talking to Willow
I had only noticed it but not taken much account
She was entirely right
My mind was in the moon
And with the birds, and bees,
And coyotes howling in the night.
So Frank and me cut wood
And Amy made us sandwiches
And all four of us drank fresh milk
And enjoyed the early afternoon sun together
I learned that Amy was pregnant with their second
At the same time Clarinet learned
She was startled with the news
Playing as she was with a doll on the patio,
She just sat there with her big eyes
Looking at her mother
Probably as many thoughts going through her brain
As I had inside of mine.
I left with enough time
To return by daylight
Trying not to rush myself home
For I knew that I would be expected
But still so many thoughts going through my mind
Before getting home
I stopped at one of the bluffs with a view
Of the entire valley basin
And watched the sun set
With glorious reds and purples and oranges
That gave me every answer
I had ever asked before.
It took me a long time to get over the loneliness I now felt
Each step was an effort of motivation
My heart wanting to turn around and embrace the kindness
But I knew I had to go on
I had kept their names in my pocket book
So I could write them
And they had also given me the address of some friends
That lived East, that I might come across
On my long journey.
The weather was starting to get colder
But still very early in Autumn
So I had quite a while to make it to where I was going
The question of where I was going
Did definitely come across my mind many times
And in conversation with Frank and Amy
I had learned the distances of some of the towns
I would be approaching as I made my way East
You know you’re getting close to a town
As trails become more worn
And paths get wider
Signs of civilization everywhere
From freshly knocked down trees to garbage thrown aside
It was nice to be walking again
When a thin layer of sweat started to heat me
I remembered the little spots easily
That had so been tenderized by my pack and walking
Funny how so quick a body can forget
When it’s not being put to use
None of the pains I had felt working the axe
Inhibited my walking,
Though I instinctively reached for them
From time to time.
I spent most of the day walking at a rapid pace
Trying to get the most out of my peaceful mind
Still with a fresh set of feet and a bushy tail
I barely stopped for lunch
Just quickly finding a soft spot
And eating down the delicious food Amy had sent with me
I held a small piece of dried moose in my hand
As I walked, taking small bites and savoring the flavor
That made the edges of my mouth water uncontrollably
It reminded me of being a kid
And shredding dried jerky to put into our lips
As if we were chewing the real tobacco
A habit I never really did catch on to.
I could write out the sounds of a thousand butterflies,
Or hooves of ten blazing stallions;
I could impress the weight of three falling leaves,
Or hardness of one megalith;
I could fall to your feet in Roman respect,
Or your arrow you’ve sent on the run;
I could find every fruit in the garden of Autumn,
Or a reason to look far away;
I could let a simple dream drift off like a wish
But I’ll never let your heart away.
As Autumn turns it’s leaves loose
Winds speak colder upon my brow,
Footsteps crackle amidst ripened grass
And needles lay their pointed lips
Upon a hungry slugs slime.
But look, just there!
A toadstool sticks its neck out
Searching the air for sticky sweet moisture
To sporulate, propagate.
How richness exudes from dampened bark!
How heavy air cools thy heavy breath.
And maple leaves, the biggest leaves,
Lay down, carpeting the meadow safe.
Remind me of the garden I’ve floated in
Tea you used to share
Your laugh to my sweet game
With history on our steppe
I could mark every book full of stars
And still your voice through halls of love
Let me lose years since it’s been
So much to wish and to share
Let us find two handsome garden chairs
As dead leaves fall Autumn around
My heart pulls home warm cups of tea
And family speaks free in your hair
As Autumn’s candle blows clouds away
Sharpness enters into this day
At the cost of blue one cannot say
The geese should fly today.
But as Hermes doth say,
“Winter, come our way,”
So must we abide by nature’s law.
And here we are amidst the fray
Swirling leaves on an Autumn day,
And frost spreading it’s silver lining
Along the open grass
With little paw prints
Bustling here and there,
To prepare for Winter’s deep lair,
Shelter and warmth bites the air
Though Autumn’s wick doth get shorter.
When I was a little lad
I can remember quite vividly
How I’d run around in wool:
Jackets, mittens, and a toque.
Rosy cheeks would rush between
Piles of raked leaves
Exploding as a shaggy dog may
Tongue half way to the ground.
I remember putting my nose
Pressed right to the ground,
Smelling dirt and grass
And observing in minute detail
Leaves turning from green to brown
Crackle them along veins
Once so vibrant, so alive, fresh
Now so similar to the dirt
Squished between my fingers.
Busy in the dizzying mirth
Of all such decay.
Here, I would stay,
Madly fascinated with stacked flower pots
Textures of clay now everywhere!
From where did they come?
Every Autumn was fun,
Chopped logs and canning jars,
Hockey sticks and Halloween,
Snow banks and toboggan pulls.
I can remember the dying sun.