Shaman

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The dreams began a couple of decades ago. They vary in many ways, but the part that stays the same is the woman running. I’ve never seen her face, only a partial silhouette at best. Her skin, her hair, could be dark or fair. She is always strong and fast, but I never know if she is fast enough to outrun what follows her.

This piece started out as just part of the second stanza, and heavily influenced by Vanishing Act by Thomas Perry and the songs of Dead Can Dance. Since I’ve been thinking about the woman running (as she is to play a major role in a forthcoming novel), the poem morphed to fit her and her companion’s trials in an 18th Century Upstate New York.


Rose petals and cinnamon hold the last of us–
dark trails lit only by memory.
So many moons betrayed our shallow steps.
When they caught us behind the Skipping Falls
they asked how we could run faster than horses.
He could not understand the fear in your eyes:
it was never for the arrogance of men like him,
but for our God.
So he cut your hair as easily as he cut my throat.

You brought us back here
to a lost story in a now unknown land.

We lay upon weathered rocks in the Little People’s stream,
almost strangers, as hypnotic breezes whisper
and you follow their counsel.
Tufts of hair, clippings of bloodied nails–
you leave what remains of your weapons and beauty
to our friends; small gifts to ward off another Fox.
They use dragonflies to weave the bridge of stars
for our spirits to pass over.
One last time, we drink of the sky
and dream of the earth.