I could sell you an old map
Of my own handwriting
With stars on every place
We should learn to call our home.
I’d carve into every signpost
Where we’d walk up and down Broadway
Our names forever
And our old hands together.
I’d sail away on every sea
With wind of your full soul
And plunge right in I’d dive again
To find the pearl of your heart.
I could sell you an old map
Walking through the ancient forest
I pick up broken sticks
I pick up what has left the home
To wander alone, to wander, Ranger.
Many times I’ve shared my thoughts
With wholesome handsome faces,
In a trunk of ancient bark
I sing songs of fallen trees
That show me signs of what has begun
In silver rays of spying lightness
And broken sticks below my foot
Though an ancient forest I remain.
This is the turning point
This is the handing off
This is the hardest part
And I’m coming home.
Been, and said
And lifted my head
To reach what couldn’t hurt
And I’ve gone instead.
This is a sounding alarm
This is a messenger
This is a cold escape
And I’m coming home.
But there I was
Lost in my reverie
To the kingdom I’ve built
And I’ve gone home instead.
But definitely obscure
Be thy home.
This is my calling
Run through the forest
Trails along the way
Lead me home, sometimes.
Forage some berries
Discover a toadstool
Help a little frog
Along its merry way.
Some paths grow narrow
Hardly able to walk
A step on a branch
Scares the whole flock.
And then open up
To a wide open meadow
Dig up some roots
Soil to my soul.
This is my calling
Deep winter bark
Roots on my threshold
Home in the end.
This was my new family
My life became so entwined with them
Every day for me was filled
With compassion I had never experienced before
Not even living at home with my Irish parents
Who set the fire at 4:15 every night
There were other people that involved themselves in our life
But they had their own things
And I had for the most part
Already been completely welcomed into the family.
I took Willow and Lily with me to see Amy, Frank, and Clarinet
Who were at first beside themselves with joy
That I had found myself a wife
And then flustered with how to celebrate
The special event with us,
Because of the communication we had developed
They were able to talk with us
And only some of the time Willow would lean on me
Asking what they had just meant
But she was never-the-less shy
About meeting White people
And didn’t quite know how to act
Or what to do in a social setting like this with them.
When we were on our way home
Winding through a path that was now familiar
I asked Willow how she had liked Amy & Frank
She said: “Amy very beautiful, Frank very clean.”
I laughed a good long time
After hearing this
In spite her questioning: “What? What?”
I couldn’t stop my laughter
And couldn’t get enough of this woman who loved me
I asked her how she liked their home
Wooden walls, and rocking chairs
And a steel fireplace to burn wood in
She looked at me and said straight:
“Joe, not us.”
At that moment
My passion for her blossomed
Into a thousand year old tree
Her honesty and immediate awareness of it
Made me understand one of her truest qualities
Willow looked at me
And I looked at her
And Lily, behind Willow, looked at me
And for nearly the whole ride home
I could hardly contain myself
From devouring with passion
The entire essence of Willow
Her full beauty as a strong Woman
Who had chosen to share space
With me, a dusty traveler,
And every time I looked at Lily
Bundled in tightly behind Willow with sleepy eyes
I burst into laughter I never knew I had.
When we arrived home
And put Lily to sleep
We walked down to the river’s edge
Where we had first kissed
And sat for a long time
Together, under blankets
Watching as the moon slowly made its arch
High up into the Autumn sky,
There were no words that needed to be said
Because we spoke so fluently in silence
And we leaned backwards
Falling into the web above
Twinkling back at us in dreams,
Sharing every secret we ever had.
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.
There was no moon at midnight
And my road was clambering on
I saw what appeared to be shadows
But from what direction I could not see the source
Nor could I understand their movement
For my breath was beating strongly
Inside my mind that couldn’t sit still.
They say whenever you’re lonely
To hug a tree in the woods,
That everything will be better
Once you listen to the wind through leaves.
But my footsteps weren’t taking me there
My trees were full of eyes
That growled when I got too close
My fire had died down to a whisper
Which danced away upon every breath
That beat so wildly inside.
I tried turning my back to the fire
So I could let my eyes adjust to darkness
Cold dampness swept into my chest
That left my fingers clinching at the dirt
I sat cross-legged on ash
That was surely trying to make it’s way
Up the inside of my leg
Like slowly crawling worms
With no direction home.
My fingers felt like dust
Long gone into a night with no end.
Slowly my eyes began to make out a hue of indigo
Through the trees that crept ever closer
With a faint scent of a silhouette
That began to sing me a song
Reminding me of Joan Baez singing acapella
Which always led me to Bob Dylan
And one of his nearly alarming harmonica solos.
Stars began to blink at me
Through gusting fog that sped
As fast as the dying harmonica sounds.
I could begin to see markings
Upon the bark of the nearest Douglas Fir trees
Bark so thick that my hands impulsively
Rubbed each other
Acutely feeling dusty skin on the back of my hands
As life began to seep back into them,
Shocked one too many times
From the dark night that lay behind.
I pulled my wool blanket closer
Remembering I am a warrior
I am made of two hard feet
That carry me on through a winding
Needle covered path
Weaving past lagoons and over boulders
Over roots and upon grass
Sometimes lost and always home
And rusty feathers settled beside me
Wishing me goodnight, so I fell asleep.
Ahoy, good friends! Tis’ I come home
From a land I loved, I must say
Far off, quite far, several days
Generous fellows called it Rome
With marvelous peaks and glorious domes!
But with every step, the whole way
So many places I just could not stay
Something missing I was never shown.
Then one day who did I see?!
A friend I’d lost, nearly forgot
Lost in thought in a bubbling fountain
For me was worth bounds of glee
For all at once came a quite clear thought
Go home, remember, and climb that mountain.