Wednesday, 13 of December of 2017

Tag » Indigenous

Peter Zmyj – West Virginia Mountain Man

I met him a few years ago,
on a warm and sunny
fall day,
as I hiked through the wilderness
of the Alleghenies,
it was Indian Summer,
the leaves were red and golden.
He sat on a log
outside his little shack,
carving a piece of wood.
Old man in the forested hills.
How long has he lived here for,
I wonder.
I walked closer, and the old man
looked up to me, and made a gesture
with his hand.
Have a seat, son, he said.
Then he went on carving.
I tried to start a conversation,
and I told the old man
about my travels,
I mentioned the places I had been:
Paris, New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam.
Tell me more about these places,
he said.
There wasn’t too much to tell, I said.
All I had left was shallow impressions,
I had just stayed a day,
and rushed on
to new sights, new sounds, new people.
He told me that he had spent his whole life
in these hills, and the farthest he had gone
was a town 15 miles to the east,
but that was a couple of years ago,
these days he didn’t go to town any more.
Too many people, too much noise.
And then he told stories
about the land
the trees
the rivers
the animals
and I realized
that this old man
not only knew the land,
he was the land.
When he talked, I could hear
the trees talk,
and I’m sure the old man
could feel
the wild rivers
flow through his veins.
He told me about this black bear
that lived around here,
sometimes he came real close.
The old man said he kept a rifle,
but he never tried to shoot the bear.
God made this land for all critters
to share,
he said.
I still think of the old man
And I wonder if he still lives
out there
amidst the trees
the rivers
the hills.

Peter Zmyj

Joy Harjo – Remember

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.

Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.

Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.

Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.

Remember your father. He is your life also.

Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.

Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.

Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowa war
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.

Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.

Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.

Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.

Remember that language comes from this.

Remember the dance that language is, that life is.


1 comment

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