Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The late-afternoon Sun bathes the snow covered road, the fences running parallel to it, and the lonely, snow-spotted fields that eternally flow into the nearby foothills, with brightness…

An old man stands upon the road, alone, coatless, and apparently distressed; his long-White-hair hanging in three neat braids, as eyes that have seen seventy-three summers search for a wolf that he’s heard howling, somewhere in the distant hills.

It is February twenty-third, and the quiet, sunny and windless late-afternoon, begins to define another time and place for him; so-much-so, that he repeatedly calls his wife’s name out-loud…

“Natoyist-siksina -- Medicine Snake Woman…,” then absolute quiet, interrupted only by the far away wolf’s howl again, as if in response to the agonized articulations of a heart and mind that have known happier times, have known a woman’s love, and have known a World that no longer exists.

Standing quietly and listening to the wolf, he thinks in Blackfeet, “Help me my brother, my heart is hurting…”

He sighs deeply and begins to walk again; his lowered head and slow step interprets a heavy heart and grieved soul.

As he walks on, he remembers, and time passes by without notice; the World becomes a shell where his body remains; his spirit once again runs like the wind and Natoyist-siksina is with him.

They sit together holding hands, on rich green grass along a riverbank, on a clear summer day thick with the fragrant smells of honeysuckle, peppermint, fresh air and clean water, where birds fly about and sing throughout the aspen leaves, fluttering in the breeze…Natosi -- The Sun -- smiles as he showers them with warmth, light and happiness; laughter and sounds of life float from the nearby camp, filling their ears with peace, paralyzing time...they are young again…

She watches a small child splash and play in the stream, as its mother laughs; she watches a group of young boys as they return from an imaginary buffalo hunt; she watches an eagle as it soars past the Sun and he watches her.

He can’t describe his feelings for her in simple words; he lets his heart describe them with song. All he knows is that he has never seen another woman as beautiful as she is and that she owns his every waking moment, where she personifies his dreams…

She looks at him and becomes embarrassed by his obvious regard. He places his arm around her shoulders and draws her nearer. They welcome the twilight and greet the stars together…

“Ooooooohhhhh…,” and his heart draws the memory away, sending it back into its world! He stumbles and stops walking, weaving slightly. “Ooooooooohhhhh…” resounds again and he slowly turns around. A large-black wolf stands on the road from where he has just come, not more than thirty feet away.

He smiles, lifts his hand and says, “Oki Niscunnie -- Greetings my friend. Nitaapiiwa -- How are you?”

The wolf’s eyes begin to smile.

They watch each other in silence, then the old man says in Blackfeet, “My only friend has gone to the other side; have you come to take me to her…?”

The wolf watches.

Fluent Blackfeet passes from the old man to the wolf again, “I want to go with her; I’m lost without her and I don’t know this World anymore…”

The wolf begins to howl and the old man walks off the dirt road and stops, clearing the snow from an area, he slowly sits and begins to sing his death song. His heart is bursting with pride, as he sings the song that has never been sung. Tears roll down his cheeks as the wolf sings along…

An Owl flies past and all is silent.

-- Calvin Tatsey © 2008