Posted: October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,



Grandfather asked me to walk the

Fence-line with him.


“You must learn the ways of

Your forefathers, how to read

Danger; how to heal the wounds

Of the land.”


Born of Cherokee blood, I understood

The manner of tribal disciplines.  I was

The only son of Dragging Hoof, my

Father, lost to a white man’s war.


“Dust Eagle Eye,” he mumbled

With ancient breath

Tobacco thick on his tongue.  He

Spoke my name as though sending

It high to Sky Gods for approval.


Made fun at in the school outside

The Reservation, I’d been nicknamed

Dusty, the name spared for my

Father’s golden horse

Who had died mourning the master

That never returned.


A mile into the traverse over boulder,

Brush weed and creek, we came across

One of the calves face down in mud,

One great liquid eye peering at us as

Though jealous we were still in this



He was ripped wide open from throat to

Immature groin.  Grandfather bent down

To study the carnage as though measuring

The size and distance of tracks, deciphering

The traveler, concluding


“Big cat, Panther, perhaps.  I see the

Jagged edge of teeth marks; the blade

And shape of claws that must have

Come down swifter than arrow,

Final as lightning.”


With a knot in my gut, I asked if

The end had been swift, with

Little suffering.


“Yes,” grandfather said, perhaps merely

To cushion the grief.  “There are possessions

We must sacrifice for a greater good;

Offerings we have no choice but surrender

To bring forth abundant harvest.”


With solemn hush I accepted this.


I wondered how long it would take for

Scavengers to skeletonize the calf

Beyond any former recognition of

Its innocent, perhaps reluctant,

Appeasement to the Wheat Corn Gods.


Secretly, as we walked away, shoulders

Held high, hearts low in the beating chest,


I prayed to these same Gods that Great Birds

Of the sky spare that one piercing eye staring

Back at me from beyond through the dust

Of sanctity, so melancholy.


I wanted to remember forever that uncertainty

Of whether it ever forgave us.



~ ~

© Copyright 2011 ♥Susan Joyner-Stumpf


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