Shaman

In the movie “The Pathfinder,” a Saami youth goes toe-to-toe with evil
for the sake of the tribe when he inherits the mantle of the fallen
shaman in a vision of a reindeer in the glow of the aurora borealis.

 

Shibboleth/aidenkieli*

Learn the language to tell the tale
with authenticity, and not through
a screen of created distance.

Long enough have you walked around it,
this task that will free your mother tongue.*
Act in faith and see what I do for you.

Dream Translation

A featureless head of white brocade
turns on a swivel slowly toward me
waiting in a line of toll-booth traffic
on a road to God-knows-where.

Confounded by currency he has never
seen, the toll-taker looks on helplessly.
I call out from my car
Mina puhun suomea! I speak Finnish.

The head with no eyes looks at me
and I understand it is up to me
to interpret, to translate,
what it is she wants to say.

Second Appearance

The same walk down the same road
for thirty years, savoring the sights
and smells of the changing seasons––
Never bored, I hope for thirty more.

Drawn by invisible threads
on this morning in May, I turn left
into the field, walk a quarter mile
and turn to the woods. Beneath

a pine, a two-point antler
dropped on the ground by a young
buck. Five feet away, the second antler––
the completion of visitation.

Third Appearance

On a hot July morning
the hungry sky devours the fog, and
the sound of last night’s showers flows
through the culvert beneath my feet.

As I speak my thanks on this hidden road
a buck perfect of limb and head leaps
before me, my saiva sarva,* filling my sight
with his glory, and I rejoice.

*token animal

 

 

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On the Feast of St. Nicholas

I came upon a well in the woods,
a cattle well you covered over years
ago to protect raccoons and people too
who might be exploring this thicketed part
this branchy path where also walk
the ghosts of farmers
who kept these woods as fields before
they’d grown to brush, then pine
and hemlock trees five stories high.

Do they keep an eye on the old well?
Is it they who have moved the wooden
cover, making a way for unwary people
or pets to stub a toe or paw on stones
that open a way down to the cool
temptation of life everlasting that water
is? Well water, that is, with its placid
face that draws us in. Kith or kin
are we to them who have gone before
ever we were born? Who maintained
the spirit of the 100 acres given to crops
and animal grazing and once-on-a-time
wells where a beast could drink?

Cheesy Christmas

Mary, look at the camera.
Joseph? Move in a bit closer.
There. Both of you, smile.
And now, click.

That’s it. We’ve got it.
The family photo
this first night of his life
captured here.

This is big news.
It will be all over the Internet
by morning. If he is who
he’s cracked up to be

this is the story of the century.
I’ll get back to you
with a hard copy.

I’m sure you’ll want to
remember this night forever.

The Saint-Maker

Church is a machine for the making of saints,
not so different from the making of sausage
the process of which you don’t want to see.

It may be the same with the saints––
God at work in the human soul, sweating
betraying an image we cannot abide.

But who’s to say what goes on inside any man
woman or child? God knows and perseveres,
poking, prodding, sometimes with fire

seeming oblivious to the pain induced, which
must be serving some purpose, some use,
hidden as is the process for making sausage.

For a Latter-day Prophet

If ever I needed further proof
that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
was still active in our fallen world,
I found that proof in you. In your seeing
what had to be done and doing it
with a passion that consumed your life.

A prophet indeed, and more than a prophet––
a man for all seasons, tested and found
worthy of the task assigned.
Now you go on in support of the life
you called into being by your bold action
knowing this is how the kingdom will come.

Commit. Commit. ________.

… the moment one definitely commits
oneself, then Providence moves too.
                                        W.H. Murray
The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

 

To walk from periphery to center is the longest walk
one makes in a given life. No matter when
it happens––at 3, 15, or 73––no matter, only
that it happens, lands you at the creating center
committed to fulfill the work of your life,
most immediately, the work of the day.

Who’s to say but you what the work is
discerned in silence and fed by a hundred moments
of deep joy. Go ahead. Take the walk of commitment
from periphery to center. I double-dare you
to fall down and kiss the ground that is creation
of which you are a part, so help you God.