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Waging Peace

Joe Bruchac: With Peacemaker’s Eyes


We are watching   
from within the longhouse
where our leaders were chosen
by the patient wisdom
of the gathered Clan Mothers,
raised up by the will
and the love of all the people
where the eagle's wings answered
the songs of peace for the children,
the elders, the coming generations.

We are watching
as the Eagle watched
from the top of the great Pine Tree
buried over the weapons
of fraternal war.

We are watching
from within the kiva
where the calm water in the seeing bowl
trembled and the picture formed
of distant events no longer distant,
broken arrows, steel winds of death,
black and burning rain.

We are watching
from within the lodge
where the male deer removed their horns
so that even by accident
no one might be injured.

We are watching
from the eagle catching pit
without food or water or sleep
as Bear and Deer stood before us to speak
as wind and cloud took shape to whisper
as we saw the far-off forms of greed
of hatred and hunger turn to spears of fire

We are watching
from the shaking tent
from the ghost dance circle
from the dreamer's lodge
from beside the cross fire
where the water bird's wings
throbbed from the water drum.

We are watching from Ndakinna,
from the Paha Sapa,
from beside the Sipapu,
from Cante Ista,
from the Big House,
from the 7th Direction
from the Heart of the World
from that humble place
within our own hearts
that only speaks
when we see ourselves
as Creation always sees us.

We are watching
as the old Muskogee man watched
when the whirlwind approached,
the great cyclone column
swept over the plain
toward his small house
till he raised the hatchet
in both his hands
to strike it down into the willow stump,
splitting the storm
to pass on each side.

We are watching
as the grandmother watched
the small silver screen
in her unheated trailer,
shaking her head in ancient pity
as the men in black judicial robes
sewed stones into their garments
and waded chanting Hail to their Chief
into the dark water and its unknown depths

We are watching

as the white stone canoe
returns once more to the western shore
we are watching as the calm Peacemaker
and Ayontwatha and the Mother of Nations
observe the approach of the new Tadadahos.

The earth shakes beneath their behemoth feet.
Their bodies are contorted by power.

Snakes grow from their hair,
the snakes of greed
the snakes of hate,

the snakes of envy

the snakes of deceit.

They hiss and coil,
those snakes of oil,
those snakes of blood diamonds,
those snakes of death squads
those snakes of disease.

There is no magic,
no weapon of war,
no human law,
no gathered force
that can defeat these Tadadahos,
these Twisted Minds with all their power.

Yet the Peacemaker and Ayontwatha
and the Mother of Nations are unmoved before them.
They wait in the cool shade of the Tree of Peace.
Behind them stand all of the people
who remember what Great Turtle taught them,
hands joined together, they hear the drum
with its heartdeep rhythm begin to beat.
The Great Song of Peace will resound again.
Ayontwatha holds the bone comb in his hand.


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