Lame Deer's Vision

High atop the mountain
A boy crouched alone in the vision pit – waiting.
Raising his red stone pipe to the four directions
He sent clouds of willow bark smoke
Skyward toward his ancestors.

Naked beneath his star blanket he wept a man’s cry –
Crying for a vision to come
That his people may live!
Chanting with eyes fast shut he waited and prayed.

First came the cries of the wind,
Then the whisper of trees.
Birds swooped and circled about him.
He shook his rattle crying,
“Tunkashila, grandfather spirit, help me.”

A voice spoke in the call of a bird,
“Your sacrifice will make you
Wikasa Wakan, medicine man.
We are the winged ones and we are your brothers.”

In a swirling cloud his great grandfather came and spoke,
Blood dripping from the hole
Where a white soldier’s bullet had found his chest,
“You will take my name, Tahka Ushte, Lame Deer.”
The new man on the mountain rejoiced.

Quietly entering the vision pit,
Kind Old Chest placed a hand on Lame Deer’s shoulder,
“Four days have passed, it is time.”
And led Tahka Ushte down to the valley.

by Robert Charles Howard

Comments (4)

A yoeman willing to reclaim and capable of reviving poetry's foundations in communal narratives.
Beautifully written. Sweeps the reader along with all that is happening. Makes one weep for the past and desperately hope that the vision can be preserved and realized.
Robert, the reverence herein chants into the bones-perhaps if we all would consciously undertake our vision quest, our people might yet live. Phillip
There is a lovely warmth withing the narrative and the structure of the stanzas is exceptional. It strikes me that there must be a similarity between music and poetry as this, along with other poems of yours, carries a melody (atonal if you like! lol) .