Saturday, March 24, 2018

In the excerpt, Horacio discusses what they should do with the odd boy that they found in the dessert with a group of men. A town Apache is pressed to give his take on who or what the boy might be. It is not good news.

Warmth radiated throughout Elizabeth’s body. With a dismissive nod to her husband, she carried the boy back toward the wagon. Horatio pulled his slouch hat off and plowed his fingers through his hair. He tugged at his beard. His heart beat with a weighted sluggishness.
It was then that another man spoke. “Feller, if you knowed what’s good for you and your woman, you’d turn the boy over to the army, pronto.”
 Grimacing, Horatio nodded his head in reluctant agreement.
He said, “I know this ain’t no good.” Rubbing the back of his neck, he then crossed his arms. He blew out a held breath. “Lizzy’s done an buried three babies. There ain’t no way any man and his army’s gonna separate her from that child now.” He set his jaw. The men shuffled back, shaking their heads. A crowd gathered and milled around forgetting their business—throwing sidelong glances—grumbling.
A blustery man wearing a star pinned to his dusty, colorless shirt and wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat on the back of his head, dragged an old, town Indian forward. Of an undetermined age, leathered features rose from bottomless creases running through his face. His eyes, sunken and yellowed from drink, flashed and then darted to the ground. His iron gray hair, cut at his shoulders, fell forward as if to hide him from prying eyes. 
“Come on, Zoo-Nee,” the man with the star on his shirt said, “Speak up. What do you make of this?”
The old, town Indian grunted, shrugged his boney shoulders. Pursing his lips into a deeply eroded pucker, he shook his head.
“Come on, now, speak up. There’s some fire-water in it for you.”
The old, town Indian sighed.
“What do you reckon that boy is?”
Men shifted in their stance, their skin tingling as they tugged at their hats as if to brace for a sudden dust storm.
“What is he?” the man with the star on his shirt said with a snort, his face rosy, and his eyebrows raised showing off for the crowd. “What did that boy just say to that woman there?”
The old, town Indian, still looking at his toes, spoke from under his vail of greasy gray hair. His voice high, coarsened from years and drink. He said, “Ishkiini da ndee.”
The men rumbled.
“What did he just say?” Horatio said. Emptiness settled into his stomach and his eye twitched.
Scratching his whiskers, the man with the star on his shirt frowned and then said, “. . . Said that boy ain’t Apache.”


Thursday, March 1, 2018

In this excerpt, the couple rolls into Solomonville with the boy. He slowly awakens in the arms of the woman and the unfamiliar sounds, sights and smells of the town throw him into panic. He bolts from the woman's arms to make his escape.

The softness of the first light of the day, the warmth of the blanket, and the woman’s embrace kept the boy floating, languidly. Voices and sounds came to him, drifting and disconnected, muffled and soothing. Horses snuffled and whinnied. Mules brayed. Dogs barked. Cattle lowed. Quarreling crow’s quarrelsome caws faded until only one was still heard. The boy thought it called his name.
Shik’isn Ba’ ts’ose,” the name swirled all around, riding on the blowing dust.
His eyes pulled open and the familiar sky hung above him, and the smell of the unfamiliar flooded his senses. The woman. The town. The shit and piss saturated dirt of the street. The pungent smell of tobacco smoke. The stink of white-eyes. Dust in the air shrouded the edges of his vision. Ghostly figures. His heart raced, near to exploding in his chest. He looked into the face of the woman. Cocking her head curiously, she blinked her black eyes.
He spoke his garbled talk, his voice high and weak. He said, “You cannot have me yet, raven.”
Elizabeth’s heat rose. With a slight head shake, she cut her blank expression to her husband. It was then the boy flung himself from her embrace. He dropped to the ground, landing on his hands and feet. He humped up in his back. He flicked his head searching for an escape.
Pissing in the dirt from fear, where he stood on all fours, the boy scampered away. Loping down the main street of Solomonville as fast as a dog could run. Dodging spooked horses and mules. Frightened oxen bellowed. Their big bells hanging around their necks clanged their distress. Dogs chased him—barking and nipping at him. All the while, the boy yelped and whined. People strolling the town’s adobe and boarded buildings yelled out in disbelief and jumped away from the naked dark boy loping on all fours.
“Someone get that poor child before he gets hurt!” Elizabeth Merrill yelled.
Horatio, and the other men with him, gave chase—grunting from their exertion, followed by Elizabeth, holding up the hem of her dress with one hand and waving the blanket in the other.
The first person to gather his where-for-all kicked at the yapping dogs chasing the boy. He made a grab for him. The boy stopped his mad dash for freedom as soon as the young man seized him. Still slathered in bear-grease, he slipped his hold, and then free again, changed direction in his charge to escape. Panting and whining, his fingers and toes dug into the dusty muck.
It was then a vaquero, wearing a fancy sombrero and mounted on a ewe-necked yellow-buckskin pony build a loop in his rawhide riata. His horse snorted. It danced in the dust. The vaquero’s spurs jangled. With a flick of his wrist, he sent the loop over the boy. He yanked the slack—the riata snapping. The caught boy sat back on his haunches. He quaked. He trembled. Tears flooded his face. He slumped and then went quiet.

Lying like a dying dog in the street, the boy knotted his body and whimpered. A crowd gathered around him. The woman pushed through. She freed him. And then she covered him with the blanket. Now cradled in her arms, he looked into her warm black eyes. He closed his eyes in acceptance. In his garble, the boy said, “Raven, why won’t you let me be a boy.” 

Friday, February 16, 2018

In this excerpt, Horatio and Elizabeth have taken to boy onto their wagon and are headed into the night toward a nearby settlement.

Her hand fluttered to her lips. Her skin tingled. She pushed away from the boy. “Oh, Horatio, he ain’t no Injun’.”
“What?” Horatio cocked his head.
“Just look at the poor thing. His eyes are light colored not dark like an Injun’.”
Horatio leaned over his wife to inspect the boy’s eyes that held a focus on the woman’s face.
“I’ll be go to hell,” Horatio said. “Damned if I know what to make of it.”
“Mind your cussing.”
“He’s as poor as the little end of nothing,” said Horatio.
 “Oh, the poor thing, he’s burnt and scraped. Horatio, fetch that bucket of bear-grease,” she said. Holding the boy’s arm in her hands, it felt limp and tiny in her grip. Let’s get him in the wagon and take him on into Solomonville—maybe someone there’ll have an idea about him,” she said.
“I don’t know about that, Lizzy.”
She cut her eyes to him. “You ain’t sayin’ we’re leave ‘em him here?”
Hesitating, her husband said, “But Lizzy, he is an Injun’ no matter what color his eyes are.” He cleared his throat. “It wouldn’t be safe for us to have him with us. We’re still quite a spell from town. He cut his eyes to the darkened horizon. “Probably won’t get there till sun-up if we keep going.”
“That wouldn’t be Christian of us. Impossible.” Shaking her head, she gave her husband another look. Even harder. Her eyes set steely. “We’re taking him with us.   Now here, you clean his feet and hands and slather them with that grease. And any other place where he’s scorched. And hurry about it. It’s gonna be too dark soon.” She held the boy up by his arms. “He don’t weigh hardly a thing.”
The boy did not understand the white-eye tongue. He peered into the woman’s glowing face as they leaned together. Her hair shone black. Her dark eyes flashed in the low light. She smelled of sweat and smoke and sweetness. She gently stroked his arm.
He spoke to her in his garble, “I see you, raven.”
Her face colored. “Did you hear that, Horatio? He spoke to me.”
Her husband worked his mouth like a sour taste set on his tongue. “Yes,” he said, “and it don’t sound like no Apache I ever heard. There’s no telling what this boy is.” He stroked his crackly beard.
“That’s why we must take him with us,” she said. With her brow lined, the muscles in her jaw twitched.
The man tugged at his ear and then combed his beard with his fingers. With a deep, weighted sigh, he said, “I don’t like it, Lizzy, but I can see you got your mind set.”
Slathered in bear-grease and swaddled in a scratchy woolen lap blanket that covered Elizabeth’s legs, the boy sagged on the seat beside the woman. He devoured a biscuit and salty cured ham. His gummy eyes flashing in the last of the light as he drank from his cup.
The man located a peak in the distant mountain range. He bellowed, “Get up.” And he goaded the mules with a slap of the lines. “We won’t make camp the night, Lizzy. It might be best if we push on.” The woman nodded her agreement. The animals pulled against their load. Lug chains rattled. Grunting and swaying in their harness, the mules pulled the wagon onward.
Soon the night echoed with the constant sharp put-put-put calls of a tiny owl. Other owls joined in. And just as the man and woman felt hemmed in by the unremitting racket, silence fell over the darkened land. Replaced by the dull hum of hundreds of bees seeking out the evening primrose. The yips and yaps of coyotes triggered the boy to sit up and whine. Elizabeth’s warm touch lulled him back into sleep.
The squeaky cry of the killdeer, the trills and riffles of the mockingbird drowning out the call of the poor-will, serenaded them as they made their way toward the settlement of Solomonville under a deep, dark-purple sky. The moon and glittering stars shrouded by wisps of clouds.

The boy slumbered for the remainder of the journey, sleeping deeply. He awoke the next morning. Cradled in the arms of the woman. His eyes glued shut. He took in easy, slow breaths. The man stood among other men. They smoked. They chewed tobacco and spit into the dusty street. Shuffled their feet. Combing their beards with their fingers. Gathering opinions on the lost desert boy.
Pinched lipped. A slight grimace on his face. Horatio Merrill pulled in his brows, turned his eyes to his boot toes. The other men chewed over why the boy was abandoned in the desert. Pondered if his mother had died. Or if she was murdered and he wandered away. Maybe he was so tetched that his fearful people turned him out. He was Apache. That was the conclusion. In spite of the queer color of his eyes. And he should be turned over to the army.
The softness of the first light of the day, the warmth of the blanket, and the woman’s embrace kept the boy floating, languidly. Voices and sounds came to him. Drifting. Disconnected. Muffled and soothing. Horses snuffled and whinnied. Mules brayed. Dogs barked. Cattle lowed. Quarreling crow’s caws faded until only one was heard. He thought it called his name.

Shik’isn Ba’ ts’ose,” the name swirled all around, riding on the blowing dust. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

In this excerpt, the desert boy is discovered by a White Eye couple traveling to a nearby settlement. A faithful decision is made

The man clanged around behind the seat for a tin cup. He filled it carefully to the top from one of the water bags hanging from the side of the wagon. The woman stood behind her husband and peered at the boy. Her tensed facial muscles kept her from smiling. Her eyes narrowed, but hesitated to touch him even as she reached her hand out to him.
Taking the cup, she squatted beside the boy; her blue-checkered dress billowed as she set her straw hat down beside her. She brushed away the stray hairs tickling her face. She shushed at the child and muttered to him in soft tones.
“Careful Lizzy, it might have the madness,” the man said.
“You hesh up now, the poor thing’s near done in,” she said. “And it ain’t no it.”
Thirst drove fear from the boy. He lunged at the cup. It clattered from her hands. She squealed. The water soaked into the sand all at once. The boy clawed at the drying spot, picking up handfuls and shoving it into his mouth. He spat and sputtered. Horatio handed his wife another full cup.
“Here, here,” she said. Now the boy stood. Legs quivered. Hands shook. Eyes pleaded for more. She handed the boy the cup, holding onto it. The boy’s crusty hands wrapped around hers and he put the cup to his cracked lips and drank it down. He gasped as he gulped. Seeming stunned that the cup was now dry; he held his eyes on the woman and whimpered. Horatio handed his wife another full cup of water. She passed it into the boy’s hands.  He downed it again in one gulp. His scrawny legs gave way and he plopped in the sand.
“Well, it’s a boy-child.” The woman sat back. “What in the world is the poor thing doing way out here?” Her eyes scanned the barren landscape for sign of his people.
“From the looks of him, he’s been on his own for a spell.” And then Horatio climbed into the wagon. Standing on the seat, he squinted into the fading landscape for sign of others.
“How has he stayed alive?” the woman said. “Why would someone turn a child out in this God-forsaken land?”
“Don’t see hide nor hair of a single soul. ‘Cept a coyote or two and some ravens off yonder-ways.”
The caws and fluttering silhouettes of ravens off in the distance faded into the darkening sky. Crickets crowded at the base of the creosote bushes set up a near steady racket. The rasping of cicadas joined in.
“Don’t know about water, but he’s been gettin’ his fill of bugs.” Horatio pointed to the crickets and parts of crickets scattered around the base of the bush.
Her hands went to her mouth and she gasped. “Oh, poor thing.”
“He’s an Injun’, Lizzy, they eat most anything a coyote’ll eat, I ‘spect,” Horatio said.
Elizabeth rubbed the boy’s greasy, knotted hair gently. Her touch radiated from the crown of his head to the tips of his cracked and caked toes. His body melted. His eyes, reflecting coppery in the light, turned to the strange otherworldly woman.
Her hand fluttered to her lips. Her skin tingled. She pushed away from the boy. “Oh, Horatio, he ain’t no Injun’.”

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Boy Is Found

The Boy Is Found. This excerpt is from my upcoming book, Shoodii Bill.

HUNKERED DOWN BEHIND a creosote bush, his thirst and shaking limbs held him fast. With a quick jerk of his head, he flipped his greasy hair out of his face. He rocked back and forth on his haunches. The sound of the approaching wagon now carried a voice, brassy and annoyed. Cutting his eyes, he searched for an escape. Creosote bushes as far as he could see. The wagon came on. Banging and groaning. A different voice rose and fell a softer, kinder voice. Animals blew and snorted. It was too late to run. He hunkered down lower to hide.
The sunbaked wagon, loaded with goods to trade, drawn by a team of struggling mules, shadowy in the low light, hove into sight. A man sat humped in the shoulders, his hat pulled down over his hidden face, making sawing motions with the lines in his hands. A woman sat stooped on the seat beside him. She took refuge under a large straw hat more to block the blowing sand than to shield her from the light that now ran low and golden across the ground. She looked fretful. The man, his face flushed from the heat and frustration, goaded the drowsy mules with whistles and yelps. The mules pressed on against their harness.
“Whoa,” the man’s cracked voice cut through the air. The wagon rested beside the bush where the boy crouched. The wagon wheels settled into the sand.
“It smells like rain,” the woman said. Her posture stiffened as she shielded her eyes. She gazed at the distant mountains now in near purple silhouette.
Tears welled up behind the boy’s gluey eyelids. Lightness overcame him as he threw back his head and let out in a high pitched, “Yip, yip, yip. . .”
The mules reacted with jerking heads and rattling chains. The woman let out her own yipping noise, while the man, who had fetched two water buckets, cursed, dropped the buckets and struggled to bring a shotgun to bear. The boy whined.
 “Wait!” the woman said, stuttering, “That’s a child.”
The man raised his sighting eye above the notch of the shotgun’s barrel and peered at the naked boy.  “I’ll be go to hell if it ain’t . . . .,” he said.
“Don’t be throwing curses around,” the woman said.
“I could a-swore it was a coyote.” He knitted his brow and dropped the end of the shotgun barrel, pointing it to the ground.

“Don’t just stand there Horatio, do something. That poor thing looks near cooked to death. Fetch some water.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The story of Shoodii Bill begins:

The Raven Tells Coyote, “Run To The Mountain To Be a Man.”

TURQUOISE AND SILVERY as the dying sky, a rubbery lizard skittered across the ground to mount a rock still holding heat from the mid-day sun. From the rim of the Gila Mountains, copper light poured onto the desert glinting on creosote bushes, throwing long purple shadows lacey and cool. Cicada’s raspy reverberations rode on invisible heat-waves. Sand swirled and trickled along the ground. It smelled like rain. However, it was the deceiving scent of creosote bushes in their full heat-soaked flowering.
Naked, filthy, and blackened as dark as a raven, a child scampered on all fours for shade and the promise of water. His pulse raced. His chest tightened. Like an overwrought pup, he whimpered when no water was found. The skin on his hands and feet, blistered and scraped raw from the sand no ­longer plagued him as much as the flies that teemed and swarmed the scabbed over corners of his eyes and mouth.
Just then, a raven swooped down and landed beside him. Golden light flashed off its feathers. It strutted. It humped up and fluffed out. Fanning out its tail feathers it shook off the heat.
Squinting, the child angled away from the suspect bird. Not having the strength to run, the sweltered child cocked his head to the side. He turned his gummy-lidded eyes to the bird. In a strained voice, he spoke to it in a garble. Not Apache, something else.
You said there was water here.”
Full of bluster, the raven twitched its head and blinked its beady black eyes and then it said, “Can you not smell the water, Shik’isn Ba’ ts’ose?”
The child sat back on his haunches. Closing his eyes, he drew hot air and the tricking smell of the creosote bush in through his nose.
Trickster,” he huffed, and then he rubbed his cracked lips with the back of his hand.
No more than you,” said the raven, bitingly. “But look there. I have brought you to food.” With that, the raven fluffed out its feathers, humped up again and then flew away with goading squawks and raucous laughter that echoed in the spicy air.
Reaching out, the child grabbed for a grasshopper perched on a sticky leaf. It snapped away. A leg broke off in his fingers. But then the doomed insect bounced off a yellow flower in its attempt to make for freedom, and the boy caught it. Crunching it, he chewed with his hand covering his mouth. And then he gorged on the crickets that gathered around the base of the bush.
Soon, the raven returned. The child’s stomach quivered.
Remember my kindness to you,” said the raven. “Yonder come White Eyes flush with water.”
Having never seen White Eyes, he bared his teeth and raised his head and strained his vision. His thirst narrowed his throat and squeezed his chest. It heaved with each tortuous breath. He saw no one, a mirage—yellow-green—wavered in the low light.  And then he heard the rattle of chains and the groan of a wagon and the blowing of struggling animals.
It’s time for you to change into a boy, Shik’sin Ba’ts’ose,” said the raven.
The child held out a fat, red-eyed cicada pinched between his raw fingers. “I know you hoped to eat my eyes instead, but here.”

 “I will have them soon enough.” Taking the whirring cicada in its beak and before the raven flew away, it said, “Never forget who you are, Shik’sin Ba’ts’ose, never forget…” 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Today i'm posting the coyote and raven myth that comes up first in my new book, Shoodii Bill. This poem is based on a cautionary children's story that i wrote many years ago as, The Raven Shirt. After the poem, the story of Shoodii Bill begins. I'll post that later.

In the Moon of the Great Ghost Face

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the Mountain,
Along the banks of the Gila,
Coyotero Apache dwell.
Wiciup of willow and grass;
Bluestem, bear grass, lashed with yucca.
Hide and smoke, and vessels of clay,
Burden baskets willow woven,
Devil’s claw adorned, buckskin trimmed,
Bears all; food, wood, and swaddled babes.

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Along the banks of the Gila,
Ishkiin a boy, and a dreamer;
Dreams night and day of taking flight.
Awake, asleep, he dreams to fly.
Nighttime he slumbers among the stars.
He slumbers, he dreams, and he soars.
In dreams he blazes through the sky,
A shooting star, streaking the night.
Dawn creeps in, slides into his eyes.
A shifting feeling near his heart,
Drumming his heartbeat of longings.
A new day, a new day to dream,
Quickening breathlessness, yearnings.

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Along the banks of the Gila,
Sycamore, walnut, maple, ash,
Cottonwood, alder, and willow.
Gurgling croaks and scratchy caws;
Ravens like black seeds flung skyward,
Skyward into the gloomy face.
A face gray with winter’s warning.

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Along the banks of the Gila,
Cold, biting ice and blowing snow.
Ishkiin’s heart throbs, gallops, and flies.
Arms unfurl, fingers touch the wind.
Leaning into the swirl of snow,
To be a raven, to soar high,
Fingers aching, tingling to fly.
His heart thuds dully in his chest,
Arms too heavy to lift or move.
Heat and tears well behind his eyes,
Spill and freeze upon his brown cheeks.
Oh, to touch the raven’s wing…

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Along the banks of the Gila,
Upon his bear grass bed he lays,
Underneath his warm, red-wolf robe.
Threads of smoke from embers trailing,
Ascend like prayers through the smoke hole.
Sleep will not come—dreams forsaken.

A rustle in the shadows move.
Ishkiin stirs live embers for light.
To the willow a raven clings.
In the shadows, feathers ruffle.
Shike’ dahnnah, you follow me.”
The raven’s eyes flash in the dark.

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Upon the banks for the Gila,
Moccasin dance in the new snow.
Vapors of warm breath float and swirl,
He pulls his robe against the cold.
Upon the wiciup the bird clings.

Ishkiin, you are the boy who flies?”
The boy’s tongue lay mute in his mouth.
Hasidah, hasidah,” it said,
“You climb up there, Ishkiin, up there.”
Ba’ ts’ose, a shaman dwells,
Ba’ ts’ose, coyote knows.
Bayani’, elderly one knows.”

The boy’s heart froze, and then it pounds.
Still his tongue lay dead in his mouth.
His thoughts scramble to understand.

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Upon the banks of the Gila,
The mountain’s breath stirs the hoar frost,
Grown crystalline in the snow.
Biting cold nips inside his nose,
Vapors erupt with each footfall.
His muscles clinch along his jaw.

Upon the mountain he ascends.
Laboring tracks trail in the snow.
Sycamore, walnut, maple, ash,
Cottonwood, alder and willow.
Up through the pinyon-juniper,
Through the darkness of the tall pine,
Past the feathery topped spruce-fur,
Up above the quaking aspen,
Moccasin feet tread through the snow.

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Along the banks of the Gila,
Hunkered down by a small fire,
Sheltered in an ancient dwelling,
Ishkiin unearths Ba’ ts’ose.

A shaman sheltered from the cold,
Eerie eyes in the glow of light,
Age-old eyes, eyes of dark magic.
Fragrant piney-pinion embers
Sending threads of smoke heaven bound
Mix with the smell of dried nettles,
Jimson weed, roots, and earth odor.

“You are Ishkiin, the boy who flies?”
His cracked voice carries forewarning;
A shaman, trickster, coyote.
Ba’ ts’ose tosses wood to flame,
Burning brightly in the kiva.
Quivering shadows jump and dance;
Glowing orange in the kiva.
Painted creatures and shaman show,
Painted walls of magical dreams.
The warmth settles Ishkiin’s sad heart,
Rubbing his hands and aching legs.

Ba’ ts’ose takes from the shadows
A painted parfleche he opens.
A hide shirt, quilled with raven dreams;
Dreams of magic raven rising.
Adorned with feathers black as raven,
Ba’ ts’ose holds the magic shirt.
Raven shirt, mystic shirt, dreamlike.
Ishkiin wears the magical skin,
Spreading his arms, the feathers stream.

Clay vessels born of earth and fire,
Formed and smoked and etched with outline.
Held colored sand ground for magic.
White gypsum crushed, yellow ochre,
Charcoal and gypsum render blue,
Red sandstone and charcoal yields brown,
Browns of the earth, blues of the sky.
Sandstone and gypsum makes dawn’s blush.
Flower pollen of rainbow hues,
Corn meal pigment and roots and bark.
To be a sacred dream painting.
To chant, dance, and seek a vision.

Ba’ ts’ose makes his magic.
With four sacred feathers in hand,
Ishkiin sways, hops, shuffling feet,
Chanting a song from Ba’ ts’ose.
Colored sand dances in the dirt,
Raven’s image appears slowly,
Encircled by sacred feathers,
Colors of the four directions,
Colors of the sacred sun,
Colors of the sacred moon,
Trickle between nimble fingers.

Ba’ ts’ose sings his divine chant,
Ishkiin twirls, encircles with dance,
In the orange glow of the Kiva.
Night to day and then day to night,
All the while he seeks a vision.

On the third night, the wind blows cold,
Pinion wood embers blush glowingly.
Ba’ ts’ose rises from his crouch,
His fingers stained with earth’s colors.
Trembling, Ishkiin’s eyes sparkle,
Gleaming with expectation.
Guided to the sacred painting,
He rests on the magical image.
Emptiness gnaws at his stomach.
He fights faintness, twitchy muscles,
Quivering heart, quickening breath.
Ba’ ts’ose chants and fans smudged smoke.
Purified with sage and cedar,
A new song to raven he sings,
A new song to bring the vision.

Ishkiin feels the magic power.
His eyes close, his breath comes quickly.
Soon, he is envisaging dreams.
Flight, flight enchanting and tranquil.
In his vision he’s a raven.

Mountain breath blows through the kiva
Howling low, stirring the magic.
Colors of the four directions
Swirl and drift, mix and blow away.

Ishkiin stirs, awakens, startled.
Cold wind drifts snow in the kiva.
Shimmering eyes scan the shadows.
The shaman, Ba’ ts’ose has gone.
Deserted, he stretches his arms;
Quivering arms, feathered and black.
Could it be his vision came true?

Ishkiin has become a raven?
His heart’s desire, his longings filled?
With his long feathered arms outstretched
His heart is light and he ascends.

From the kiva, the raven wings.
The raven, who was the boy, rises,
Soaring into the cold dusky sky;
A sky of gloom, a dreary sky,
A vast open sky to discover.

Over the brow of the mountain,
Above the crest, the snowy peak,
Crowning the summit with eagles.
The moon’s face watches from above.
Night to day and then day to night,
All the while he lives his vision,
Taking wing in his endless flight.

The boundless night gives way to dawn.
Morning’s blush; sandstone and gypsum.
Come the first light, Ishkiin settles,
Shivering from the bitter cold.
Into the new dawn, ice-covered,
The thrill of flight wans with hunger.

“Oh, what fate is this?” the boy cries.
“I no longer desire to fly.
I want to be a boy again!”
Tears glistening in Ishkiin’s eyes.

Taking wing he sets out for home.
Gliding down the rocky cliff face,
Soaring by the quaking aspen,
Past the feathery topped spruce-fur,
Through the snow covered tall pine trees,
Down through the pinyon-juniper;
Sycamore, walnut, maple, ash,
Cottonwood, alder and willow.

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Along the banks of the Gila,
The coming dawn guides his flight home.
Wiciups bathed in blue sunlight,
Smoke, heaven bound, trails through smoke holes.
Outside his wiciup, he calls,
Haighah, come out! Come out!”
Ba’ ts’ose, appears as the boy.
Wearing the red-wolf robe, he smiles.
“You are Ishkiin, the boy who flies.”

“Coyote, shaman, you trickster,
The People will see through your hoax.
Change me back, coyote, change me.”

 “The People see you, boy, not me.
And they see a raven, not you.
Now you want back what you had?
But that you will not have again.
I know the song to sing to change,
And frozen in the snow you sit.
You are Ishkiin, the boy who flies.”

In the moon of the great ghost face,
In the shadow of the mountain,
Along the banks of the Gila,

Flies a raven, who was a boy.