In the morning I light a candle to warm my room.
Where are the gods my people used to pray?
Bridget bubbles from her white-walled well.
Blood on stone, thorn tree, portal and passage,
Thunder, and the One-eyed All-Father hangs alone.
Luther’s god drowned on the way from Poland
but Nana built him a tower of lilacs and bibles
in this land where Opa couldn’t speak.
Grandpa’s priest-god faded with his oldest girl
and died with the Grandma I never knew.
Mother sang and sang, but the tomb of Jesus
is in a desert very far away.
Dad walked in the woods,
his pockets full of seeds for the chickadees
who landed on his hands and in his hair.
If I watch, will blackbirds make
their holy shapes,
silver flakes against the sky?
If I listen, will blood speak,
the sharp red edge?
If I listen, will thin deer
whisper through the trees?
Red chert point buried
in my valley clay
twelve times one thousand years.
People camped where they always camped.
Deer run where they always run
but the gods of this valley are not mine.
Wind Eagle will not disperse my griefs.
The Padogiyik turn their backs.
There is no one I can tell.
The god of evolution
does not hear
and my mother has gone
too far away.
Beside the parking lot,
the river’s pebbled shore,
an eagle watches from a broken tree.
Chickadee chips outside my window.
lets go its pointed leaves.
Chipmunks break red berries
from the yew.
I will learn to pray downward.
I will make myself a shrine
of holy names and pine,
find the pool in the forest
where cress grows green
I will learn to pray like falling leaves.
I will find my father,
and we will load the wagon with logs and stop
to watch the baby wood ducks jump
from their nest and land
on the leaves below.
We‘ll plant peas and corn.
We’ll let woodchucks eat the lettuce.
I will learn to pray like rain.