Sippokni Sia

I am old, Sippokni sia.
Before my eyes run many years,
Like panting runners in a race.
Like a weary runner, the years lag;
Eyes grow dim, blind with wood smoke;
A handkerchief binds my head,
For I am old. Sippokni sia.

Hands, once quick to weave and spin;
Strong to fan the tanchi;
Fingers patient to shape dirt bowls;
Loving to sew hunting shirt;
Now, like oak twigs twisted.
I sit and rock my grandson.
I am old. Sippokni sia.

Feet swift as wind o’er young cane shoots;
Like stirring leaves in ta falla dance;
Slim like rabbits in leather shoes;
Now moves like winter snows,
Like melting snows on the Cavanaugh.
In the door I sit, my feet in spring water.
I am old. Sippokni sia.

Black like crow’s feather, my hair.
Long and straight like hanging rope;
My people proud and young.
Now like hickory ashes in my hair,
Like ashes of old camp fire in rain.
Much civilization bow my people;
Sorrow, grief and trouble sit like blackbirds on fence.
I am old. Sippokni sia hoke.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 4, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.