Wind Cave II: Time of Emergence

Tahana Whitecrow Poetry Award, 1995. Nominated for Pushcart Prize, 1996. Published in Circle of Reflections, 1995; Free Lunch, 1996; Shaman’s Drum, 1996; Fireweed, 1996.


The buffalo sank into the earth[break]when the bountymen came,[break]slaughtered for tongues,[break]they disappeared whole herds[break]hid in caves, shrunken-hearted,[break]waiting without grass, hooves[break]still in the rock. Rough dark hairs[break]rub the walls, bodies jostle for air[break]from Grandma Earth’s windpipe.

Pipestone, that soft red rock, some say,[break]is the blood of Mother Earth[break]is the blood of First People[break]is the blood of Mammoth Bison[break]where the last herds[break]shape-shifted small[break]and disappeared.

Others say they know of a cave[break]where tiny bison shuffle and wait–[break]near White River, Rosebud, Red Scaffold,[break]or Ring Thunder, cave in the Badlands cliffs[break]by the river, fossil hoofprints in the shale.

But I know the Place[break]of Emergence: Center[break]of All That Is — this[break]time, Wind Cave.

When we rise up from the earth again[break]we will not need the stairs.

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