Friday, 5 October 2018
I am the spirit of the buffalo.
Once I numbered by the million and roamed free.
We fed the Pawnee, Lakota Sioux, Cheyanne and many more across the prairie.
The earth trembled under our hooves.
Herds would take many days to pass and ford the rivers.
Then the white man came and thinned the herds to a few thousands to starve the people of the plains into subjugation.
Starving and cold a mighty people’s soul was crushed and their lands forfeit.
It was not the land that the white man wanted; it was what lay deep beneath.
Crazy for the yellow metal and the poisonous oil, they dug and spoiled.
Ancient springs stank of the foulness released and contaminated where once the water was sweet.
Crops would not grow and the fruit of the land sickened.
The people only took what the land would provide and no more.
They did not understand the concept of poverty.
They understood that they could not be poor if your belly was full and you were dry whilst it rained.
It was the white man that taught them starvation and child death.
They are called Wasichu, ‘greedy for fat’ and prize possessions more than life.
The time of the White Buffalo is coming and once more the people will fill the land.
It will be the time of the Sun Dance and purification.
Lament for a Golden Land.
I am Tall Eagle-feather, spirit of the Arapahoe,
I was a Hunter-gatherer and in love with the land of my fathers.
Gone are the Great Plains and forests that we wandered at will.
Gone are the Keepers of the pact between the Earth Spirit and us.
We kept the land in trust for those who would come after us.
We moved on, so that little trace of our communities would harm that which sustained us.
In wintertime we sheltered and endured, taking only what we needed to sustain us.
In springtime we began the move, following the herds and taking only what we needed.
The Earth was bountiful and we served her well.
The rivers ran pure while the trees gave us the fruits that we needed and the ground the plants that supplemented our diet.
What need had we for metals, or more possessions than we could carry?
We loved the land and were willing to share.
We did not understand greed or avarice, as the land provided all that we could ask.
When we could see that we had been long enough in one place, we moved on.
We had no cities.
We had no Gods of empty promises to weigh us down.
There was just the spirit of the Earth and us, her people, but it was enough.
We left nothing spoilt behind us, unlike those who spread across the lands.
The scourge had come and we unknowing of their ways taught them the ways of the land.
They took and took, killing the herds, digging, fencing, constructing, to change this land that once supported easily, what slight demands we placed upon it.
Too late we realised the alien needs of these new people would poison the lands and waters, leaving us nothing in return.
I am Tall Eagle-feather, spirit of the Arapahoe all that is left of a mighty people who cherished the land and cared for it.
My bow is broken.
(The Boot-mender’s Boy)
The river of life twists and turns, spilling over occasional rapids.
It branches into millions of dead ends, but the river foams on.
We are all passengers, travelling the same path, all with the same destination.
Some manage to dominate the stream for a while, but it never lasts.
Some gather wealth at the expense of others and lose it all when they are cast ashore.
Some lead the innocent into temptation and some to their deaths.
There is a special place for these. in the dead ends branching off the river of life,
All are swept away, subjects to the undercurrents of the mighty river.
Very few are aware of the breadth or the power of the river.
Those that do are at peace with themselves.
The wealth that some acquire over their lifespan is left behind when they go.
Few use the riches to do good, but seek more from the world than it can bear to give, just to collect more.
They forget that they are mortal and all is lost when the heart stops beating.
Still the rainforest is cut down and palm oil takes its place or pasture to feed cattle, just to make burgers.
Oil is still sought beneath the sea in arctic waters regardless of the damage to the environment.
Seals die, orangutans slowly become extinct and plastic chokes the whales.
Yet rich corporations continue to rape this world in pursuit of more and more wealth.
Money will not buy crops that will not grow.
Breathe the air while you can and slake your thirst with water that is unpolluted, yet!
Just remember that the Universe does not care if this world dies, only humanity.
I love this world and would not see it fall into careless hands.
My time gets shorter day by day and I must pass on and leave this mess that greed has wrought.
Who will bear the banner when I am gone?
I am just the Boot-mender’s boy, a storyteller by inclination without the power to change things.
In the stillness of the night I dream?
The grandfather that I never really knew reached out from the mists of time.
“You are a grandfather now, son of my son.
My sorrow is yours also, in that he has come late in your life, as did you in mine!
Leave something of yourself behind you, for him to know, as I did not.
One day he will read your books and discover that legacy that you have left him.
Be the storyteller that he always knew existed and weave my story into yours.
For I am you and you are what I became.”
I felt his love and pride reach out to me and I was unafraid,
If nothing else, I knew that one day when Tom was old enough to understand, my books would give him an insight into his grandfather’s soul.
I would live on, in more than just the transient memories of a silver haired old man.
He would perhaps see those vistas of wonder that my sons could never see.
Soaring on the wings of imagination, his soul would take flight along with mine.
It was all that I could ask and my grandfather faded slowly away.