Moon at Midnight – Part XVII (day 1991)

(part XVI)

We were sitting by the fire when Mountain Chief came back
Him and his seven men came nearly galloping in
Whooping and hollering, clearly happy to be home
We had known they were coming
From the Scouts who were on lookout
They had two buffalo with them
We were going to celebrate this evening
And the women were busy gathering wood for fire
That would be roaring for the next three days
Cooking and curing and smoking.

I helped Moon Cow as I could
We were in charge of setting up the smoke house
For all the curing that we would be doing
We latched it together from wood we found
Using our axe to form the frame
Throwing two layers of buffalo skins over the top
We layered the inside with stones
That we also placed on top to keep it extra heavy
And created 7 shelves inside, above the smoke
To put maximum meat inside to smoke.

That night I was included in their celebration
Moon Cow and Lily helped prepare me
With two big hand marks on my left rib cage
And two little hand marks on my back, upside down
Moon Cow said that I was a good omen
And that as part of his families tradition
I would be offered the little rib from the left side
And that Mountain Chief was pleased with the sign
Lily River told Moon Cow who told me
That her downward facing hand prints on my back
Was her way of showing me
That the power of her downward flowing river
Was at my back
I was left speechless as I just watched the two of them
Prepare prepare me
And then Moon Cow sent Lily back to Willow
As they helped each other prepare.

There was not just the one fire in the middle
But many surrounding fires
That each had a roasting spit on them
For the family to eat from
Mountain Chief ceremoniously cut from each buffalo
Parts that he would announce
Who and why it was given to
A ritual I had never been witness to
But understood at once the value
His people put on it.

When I was given the left little rib bone
Everybody at once erupted into cheer and dance
Acknowledging the good omen they believed I had brought
I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to do
And when I looked to Moon Cow for advice
He just shrugged and laughed at me
I at once was caught up in the ceremony.

When I awoke
There was a fresh mist across the encampment
And some twists of smoke
Coming from well attended fires
Finally breathing their last breath
I could see from some teepees
Smoke funneling out
Moon Cow had enjoyed the night as much as I had
And was just waking up when I returned
From freshening myself in the brook
He had no eggs this morning.

part XVIII

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