MF (10/28/91 / New York)

Soogha

Soogha eldest brother I never knew,
the people gave you new clothes.
In spring they honored men
outstanding in Kaltag village.
At potlatch after giveaway
those honored danced alone

Your arms flying
Ermine parka whirling
beaver hood like brown velvet
Iynx-trimmed mukluks
furs trapped by your friends
the women stitched in winter.

Dance house drums thumped,
people sang thirteen Koyukon songs,
fiddles thrummed,
wooden ocarina whistled,
you stomped around the floor.
what were your dreams?

Did you see new tall
traders come Iying, cheating?
You told the people to keep peace
overlook greed, bad bargains,
insults, but hold strong,
make friends.

Did you remember Mother Earth's
lessons of the Being With No Name,
how in Distant Time the people
talked with animals in different voices,
played among Alaska's bluebells, roses,
small spruce trees, mastodon cliffs?

You dance bright behind my eyes.
Soogha brother, I see you
in that spirit-given spring
dancing for the people,
arms open like furry wings.

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Comments (1)

A sardonic ending to a very well structured poem.