Field Notes June 3
As of late, going to the water and woods has been more an act of survival than inspiration. The public murder of George Floyd lit tinder to an anger that has been smoldering for centuries in this landscape of the north. The inferno of human rage has ignited the world, and living near its heart has been overwhelming. There is a well-worn path between our reservations and the Cities – everyone knows someone there. Negotiating what you have to do and what you have to leave-be is constant. I am working on writing and art but my direction has required assessment and adjustments. Through the myriad of thought and emotion I come back to understanding that the people of this northern place are tough; it is not our first time with this sort of thing. We know how to weather storms and are prepared to persevere to whatever is destined, as it become part of the story our descendants will tell.
A couple days ago, I went to White Earth to visit and swim in one of my favorite lakes. The land is lush and green but the lake is still low and waiting for much needed rain. The thunders made their presence known, but the rain did not accompany them this time. On the trip back I had good fortune to witness Sky’s promise in a majestic cloud formation that insisted I stop and savor. A little further down the road the sweet surrender of the day, in colors particular to this place, reminded me of a poem I wrote when I was first coming ‘home’ for good. It was a comfort to know there are certain things we can always count on in this world of human uncertainty.
From the Stardust Hotel
This is no easy place – to make dreams come true – though it may be a place
where the dreams will find you.
At the edge of the prairie
edge of the highway
edge of the reservation
edge of town.
Perhaps this is the edge
of the universe – where everything begins.
I watch forever spilling into a desolate horizon
caressing earth with all of its possibilities.
It is a deceiver,
the way it appears to be
a whole lot of not very much
as it whispers the fiercest love songs
to those strong enough to linger and listen.
Again, I am called back
to this landscape subtle in its beauty
relentless in its songs
where the trees are defiant and few,
survivors of an old story to be recalled another time.
They mark the places where the lake waters dissolve
into the damp earth
only to reemerge into the bend and coil
of old rivers and moving streams.
Tilled soil black and wet, cluster and calls to the prairie grasses nearby.
Wind moves quietly, with force,
relentless – never ending and
be mindful of its unforgiving sting.
The end of the day and I watch
as the sun flings a powerful shine across the horizon
where it is caught in a sparse grove of trees.
During this brief entanglement
it covers the empty branches
in the colors of desire-
and my spirit falls deeper into this place
now named possibility.