Kangi in My Attic

All night during this last decay of autumn moon,
wings have been banging on the eves of my roof,
forcing slivers of shiny black quills to take hold
of all my private continuances.  Every evening
for relentless hours, eyes reflecting moon’s fullness,
yellow and prying, seep through every crack in the
roof and walls. In my mind this rogue is sleek and
wants to inject a language of advice into all the layers
of wood and knots. An amount, I fully suspect, of
gray split tongue heaviness, speaking undeniable,
unchallenged but for sure on the level of new myths.
This ancient teller of old stories wants to bargain with
me. In exchange for the placement of a large winter
nest of retreat in my attic (no sticks, just debris,
wire and tubing. No dried leaves, but used plastic
sacks and old newspapers), he will tell his oldest
stories for the troubled times of the now. Stories kept
hidden like aged rocks that spark, breath and speak
when hit by flint knives, or live for a hot new fire to
sooth, replenish. His approach is a slow march of
scaled skin and worn talons from clawing his way
through. My Dakota tongue knows his rasping songs,
his pitiful stories. Always perched up high, almost
beyond reach, viewing from where we have to look
up to the divine, the sun, our blindness. It is always
the line of trees and wires, where his advantage of
looking down serves as equal. Now so close the
messenger wants his voice to be the only sound, my
attention so focused, exhales finally. I take down the
webs, wipe dust from cracked panes, open the smallest
window, leave it open for his coming and going. I’ll
have to wait, ponder as he prepares. Two of a kind,
readying our defense. Our lives will ultimately accept
what each has come to realize—how to translate this
culture for the hungry, the seemingly lost, those who
never knew what we have kept guarded so carefully
for such as them.

Kangi – Crow (Lakota language)

More by Lois Red Elk

My 24 Hour Version

Light pried open my eyes for vision to
unravel the layered dream bundle tossed
my way last night. It is always the energy
of the last thought, last vision
that urges breath to store all the little songs
floating over my head.  The window shade
tuned to the wakening dial pulled me
to hunger, to thirst, to an empty bowl
as I contemplate
how to cut and dry buffalo grass
for cereal and bread. 
All I want is my 24 hour version
of my life and more.
Last evening's storm was caught
by all the rooftop vanes and turned into
horse energy galloping around and around
one square room after another in an effort
to bring clear red circles
onto all the dark pages
that were written for our lives. 
And, the hooves keep pounding
the message home.
This day I’m collecting all those old diseased
blankets everyone’s hanging on to,
burning them and sending a smoke signal
to open all the doors
that keep our people apart. 
Right now I need to take a breath of
my mother’s vermillion medicine with
a full glass of my father’s healing bloodline.

She Was Fed Turtle Soup

The willows were turning green, slips of leafs
pointing to one another in a slow tempo soothing
the air with whispers of coming water. Her feet
were bare and the earth cool while a loose hem
feathered her ankles for her walk. Bracing on
stems for the gradual pace to not disturb all the
sleeping turtles, she wished for sunlight in a
shade of green to hurry growth and to keep her
hidden. How close could she lean into the
memory of relatives who lived this life of damp
shells and slow demeanor without alerting them
of her intent. All of grandma’s voices were now
shaking her sleepy mind and begging her return
to answer the details of her dream. It was the
call of tradition that signaled the next step to
seal the new experience into her life basket.
She will be served turtle's energy for her growth.
Off of grandma's favorite tree a knot was cut and
shaped into a bowl. Handles in the shape of
young turtles were carved into the sides. Into
the cottonwood bowl was poured the prepared
soup with essence of memory from a life once
lived. Thanking all that came before this earth
life, was her detailed prayer. A calling of all
water animals to witness the taking of one
energy to give to the energy of another, a child
who passed the test of recalling ancient blood.
Her heart will live with turtle strength. Her
life will be long and purposefully directed. Her
song will be like the cool breeze moving tall
willows above eddies remembering motion.