Thursday, October 22, 2009


When we got to the half way house for the memorial ceremony we were greeted by Wallis and several of her new friends. They were gracious and compassionate for they have all suffered grief, loss and despair. We (including the five women) gathered on the back elevated deck with the smudge, drums and gourds. One of the drums was presented to Wallis. The light icy rain fell upon us and the tall pines that stood near. Soon our hair was wet in a misty kind of way. All the dark heads around me wore the same crown of tiny crystal beads. Father Sky was leaning down to wash us with purifying tears from ishpiming. Wallis spoke first, then I offered a few words. Of course, we wept. Justice wanted to speak but he could not without weeping and so he declined. Annie sang a spirit calling song and closed with a healing song. Inside we spread a sheet on the floor and gathered around the food (wild rice and fry bread). Five of the women joined us for the simple meal. Annie sang "Beautiful Son" and many of the women covered their faces to weep alone. She also sang "Lullaby" and "I Know a Woman". Before we left Wallis embraced each of us. Then I went around the circle to shake hands with the women who had shared our sorrow and our food. Because we could not build a fire to burn the spirit dish Wallis said she would carry the plate of food to the lake. The ancestors will pluck the food from the cold water. Those few morsels will feed them all and none will hunger. Amazing!

How many times
Have I sat dumb
Upon his grave
Lost in dark despair?
One hand
At the grass.
The other
The stone.

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