Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come! Not today is to justify me and answer what I am for. But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known, Arouse! for you must justify me…. I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face, Leaving it to you to prove and define it, Expecting the main things from you. –Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”
i have heard you I have heard your barbaric yawp penetrating through time and I answer you mine is the soft voice in the cacophony people brushing up against each other, me, travelling at high speed i know them all, I am them all the musician the teacher the engineer, the migrant worker, the immigrant, the wanderer, the homebody the maid, the scientist, the politician, the single mother with babe in arms, the married couple, the homemaker, the preacher, the old couple sitting on a park bench the young lovers the writer, the trucker, the gas station worker, Native American, African American, Asian, Muslim, Christian, policeman, fireman, physician the same sex couple, the child, the son the daughter, the father I know them all, I am them all, my words your words their words immortal the poet-priest in me weaves through the cities, the country, the prairies, the mountains the rivers, the lakes, the oceans the farms the ranches, brushes by the rich, the poor the middle-class they are all of you of me I sing their song chant their chants, the they of who they are lives and breathes with me and in me poetry not dead in this time but an after current of conscience not readily discernible but thrumming as blood running through the body electric the poets, the artists the heartbeat so obscure the main do not realize it keeps them alive O Captain my captain I have seen you in that song of myself one of many songs thousands who did not know their song I have brushed by you in the crowds and looking askance I define you in defining myself o you dandy wanderer lover man poet
i am swept up in grace No longer myself but a vision I once had briefly a flash of light you created anew the stars know as does all of creation that you move among us soundlessly the gardener in his garden pronouncing everything good you are the artist painting rainbows across the sky the blue jay brushes against the sky blue look close In the blackness of the raven you hide subtle rainbows shown by sunlight you are not in the thunder but in the poetry of silence; in the sound that raindrops make or the hushed glorious way that sunbeams touch the earth at end of day in the feather softness of wings in upward rushing flight listen the music of the spheres symphony into the aurora borealis transformed dancing here below You are the graceful muted movement of deer steps in the woods you are the soundless, steady movement of color weaving through the trees in autumn the low music water makes journeying ever downriver You are. somehow your still silent voice is louder to me than crashing thunder profound in its depth and tenor Listen the wind whispers you everywhere you are I am I am
midnight intent on the road a flashpoint of light out the driver’s side window catches my eye. With a gasp I slow the truck mesmerized until a sudden bump reminds me of the shoulder and I pull to a stop a turn of the key
darkness descends. Utter silence surrounds me in the cold night Sitting in the truck bed alone wrapped in a wool blanket surrounded by the benevolent arms of creation The rustle of grasses in the wind are the orchestra of this Dakota evening the swishing of their brushing against one another a brotherhood of prairie flower, sweetgrass and thistle dancing a swaying dance filling the late summer night.
But my eyes are entranced and the swishing of the grasses fades
for the sky—the sky—wide, horizonless beckons. This night makes it easy to believe the legends We came from the stars, it is said
Then there, to the north The Big Dipper, named the Seven Council Fires.
Ancient voices whisper on the wind:
A Lakota woman went to marry a star and then fell to her death climbing down braided turnip stems as she tried to return to her village through a hole in the constellations as she fell her child was born and became the Fallen Star. And there, Orion’s belt the backbone of a bison The Pleiades, the bison’s head the stars surrounding, low on the horizon a racetrack around which the animals raced the prize to the winner a decision whether humans got to stay on earth, or be swept away by the Thunder Beings. The lowly magpie won the race and decided humans should stay
and so on earth, this human woman wonders at the magnificence of the stars humbled by the largeness of beauty and my smallness in it Gratefulness fills me as I make my prayers, and watch as they ascend to the heavens above a point of light flying swiftly to join the constellations
There is no darkness so great that light cannot pierce it, you see then
difficulty falls away in the miracle of this silent night the stars are the choir in this great cathedral Earth I heard the orchestra of God singing of glories unimaginable miracles yet to come of love eternally descending from heaven to earth weaving all humanity and the land, sea animals and stars together and back around again endlessly ascending a circle neverceasing singing the music of the spheres
and I understand in my soul, the phrase mitakuye oyas’in we are all related