The Osage family moved slowly to the beat, circling the drum with sons and daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Friends joined behind and beside. We outside the dance stood quiet, solemn as the dancers in tribute. To have a song with Grandfather's name, a tribute for a whole tribe to know, respect for those now our memories-- we should learn from this pride. My grandfather's song will have the rhythm of train wheels on tracks, slow regular, climbing long slopes. It will dip and cry like the whistle of steam rising over the valley, sharp as red leaves on a mountainside. Word sounds will jumble and roll like the voices of many children calling, playing homemade games of older days. And in the end it will settle soft, with the screaking click of a rocker on a wood porch and tall hemlocks sighing, quiet as the slow breath of an old man, remembering. Let us, too, make songs of honor so our old men are never quite gone.
Reprinted by permission of Andrew Arbuckle. All rights reserved.