#14 – Chief Injun Joe (Nature – Different Twist)

Barren boughs arch upward like broken puppet arms
askew and akimbo on invisible tangled strings
while leafless gnarled finger branches give the shadow shape

against the hoary winter skein and the black lined horizon
The wind blows, swirling up white snow, puff tornadoes
dancing along the rocky ground in haphazard patterns of chaos,
defining cold and aridity on the great plains of the Dakotas

A fractured, ancient pyre rests disassembled beneath the tree
a memorial to some warrior or chief long since forgotten
whose exploits earned a privileged place, once green and sacred

The people knew nothing of oil and pipelines and uranium,
exploration of nature, of the Mother, were solitary walks and berries,
hunting, with great thankfulness, the vast herds of bison and deer,
stalking the giant grizzly, knowing the bear most often escaped

Beneath the snow and rock, and, in the path of progress
lay his bones, ashen gray and brittle, just as the soul of his progeny.
The oil will flow and pipelines built and flowers planted in the spring
but we will miss his tree and the old man’s spirit dancing to life.

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