EDITOR’S NOTE: While in some corners of American society today, especially during the Covid era, it is fashionable to ignore the value of the elderly and their lives, but in the county Indian, the ancients are praised, revered and cherished. They are carriers of culture, tradition, knowledge, the oldest human languages on the continent and the pandemic has put many elders at risk. When indigenous peoples invoke the word “medicine” they are not referring to prescription drugs or vaccines, but to paths of spirituality and personal healing. Mountain Journal Poet in Residence Lois Red Elk, who has an incredible gift for capturing the essence of things, shares a new poem that will be included in her next volume, perfect for where we are, as the cases of Covids are increasing and those in the Indian country are rallying to protect those with the longest life experiences. Lois’ words are her gift to us.
By Lois Red Elk
Hello Mojo Friends,
The virus is still ravaging our community in Fork Peck and we are working to recover. One of my aunts, cousin and I have had so many dreams that result in healing which is good.
I was working on my book but my thoughts are elsewhere right now. I went back to my piano and toy making and it’s calming.
Blessings to you all. Laws
It was dark no matter where I looked, the lights dim
under the pressure of the lost power, of the energy that is exhausting us all.
The children have stopped playing under the loneliness of calm,
then the mothers exhale, releasing sobs in masks which they
hoped to hide all death. Aunt told us to light the fire,
bring water and bring your medicine packets from the earth.
Grandpa said it was the wind that made its way through the
Houses, started to steal the breath of our old and sick, leaving
before sunrise while we were sleeping. Boil the water first says aunt
then let it simmer. Add the herbs slowly with prayer, ask the
water to release healing energy. The children watched from
outside, playing then stopping long enough to see the finish
mourning blankets and food. It seemed like an omen
walked in circles around the earth, but no one recognized
how the deadly air closed, that our space was not ours
more. Aunt said to let the fumes of earth medicine speak
when it’s ready, then drink the tea, allow the silence, the sacred
the heat transfers your spirit to all who would receive your prayers.
The children who wanted to help were sent to sit and wait under the
willows. We made pots of tea to take to homes across the country,
and lives that couldn’t hide from the blower. The moons have come,
has left us so many times empty places of life, of laughter. Aunty
said to go to the streets and sing the songs of the lower gods, a
invitation to breathe new life into the air. We cut our hair, worn
our meds up and down the sidewalks and prayed. Children
watching the beat start to buzz with all the vocals, they
walked the isolated edges of the community, staying out of sight,
stay close to the willows. A child leading the march started to
sing whispers they heard from willows and earth, then earth
started to stir in duet with the children. It was after all the drug
was brewed, after all the tea had been shared, after all the prayers had been
said, and after the children sang, the healing began.
© Lois Red Elk