A Dream of My Mother Post-mortem

I was afraid at first of the young hart
coming at me with his head down

in what looked like an attitude of attack.
The woods behind him, the field behind me

I could have turned and run
but I stood my ground.

He pawed his ground. I ran to the side
and he, seeing my move, came after me

and I, seeing his, now ran, noticing
for the first time that it was night.

While a million stars distracted me
he butted me gently with his small

horns, and I sensed us lifting off the ground.
We were flying. I let fall my drawn-up legs

loosened my grip on his soft neck
and held it loosely in a friendly way

and like him, looking straight ahead
took in the night, loved the night,

was one with the night, and seeing
somehow those below moving

in the field we flew above. I wanted
to tell my mother and searched the faces

for sight of hers, and there she was
looking up and smiling.

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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