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Wovoka’s Witness

ISSUE:  Spring 1975


THE people around me,
they meet me. Often they will talk, and
listen. They give regard, and I
to them. A few can’t respond. Their faces
are dead. When these people meet me
and fail, I am sorry for them. For them
it is already the end of the world.


You people, my eyes are taking your picture
and putting it on a ribbon that winds
inside my head. My ears capture your voice
to hold for lonely years. My hands
have a game: “Are you there? Are you there?”
Remember? We play that game
again and again.


My people, now it is time
for us all to shake hands with the rain.
It’s a neighbor, lives here all winter.
Talkative, yes. It will tap late
at night on your door and stay there
gossiping. It goes away without a goodby
leaving its gray touch on old wood.
Where the rain’s giant shoulders make a silver
robe and shake it, there are wide places.
There are cliffs where the rain leans, and
lakes that give thanks for miles
into the mountains. We owe the rain
a pat on the back—barefoot, it has walked
with us with its silver passport all over the world.


My own people, now listen—if we fail
all the trees in the forest will cease
to exist, or only their ghosts will stand
there fooling everyone. The wind will
pretend and the mountains will step back
through their miles of drenching fake rain.
Listen now—we must let the others make movies
of us. Be brave. Charge into their cameras
and bring them alive. They too
may dream. They too may find
the ghost dance, and be real.


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