February 9, 2012
Old Hopi lies prostrate
upon a deep-red sandstone mesa,
while under him
the ground remembers noontime heat.
His rib cage barely lifts
with narrow breaths of chanting.
His voice is hushed and reedy.
Ki-tana-po, ki-tana-po, ki-tana-po.*
As his words become more halting, raven caws.
He and raven are old friends.
He kneels, and with trembling fingers
sifts two-million-year old sand into a gentle breeze.
Ai-na, ki-na-wchi, ki-na-weh
He feels sensations of his body are not balanced.
Vistas of escarpment, of river and of mesa
swirl slightly in his sight.
In his shaman’s pouch is honeycomb
wrapped in a beaded bag.
He lifts it toward the sky as if in offering.
Honey is precious in the homeland of the Hopi.
Its dense fragrance hints of amaranth and clover.
Its syrup glows deep gold in bright sunlight.
Blessed, healing sweetness.
There is presence in the wind now.
It has voice and stealthy movement.
There before him a dust devil
swerves and dances with abandon
then dissolves into oblivion.
Lavender mesas turn magenta and dark sapphire.
Old Hopi is not sensitive to day turned into night.
He dances…swerving, turning…around the flaming of his campfire,
a silhouette upon the face of cliff side petroglyphs.
* The ancient Hopi words of this chant have lost their English equivalent.