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)

From Why I Return to Makoce (Many Voices Press, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Lois Red Elk. Used with the permisison of the author.