the raven-haired boy
sits quiet in the classroom.
He learned slowly how to feel
secure, rocked in the stride
of his mother’s step. content in the
rhythmic chant of her prayers
as she gathered greens among rocks.
pine nuts and shells for his play.
“Can’t hold a pencil,
motor skills underdeveloped…”
Crawled early out of the basket
his mother wove, scurried back
when danger approached
like a sand crab to its hole.
Learned at two to ride a stick horse,
whip seaweed against sand.
“Has trouble with primary colors, and numbers…”
Knows the reds of painted drums,
tints of towhees. Can count migrating birds,
knows the seasons they appear,
hues of butterfly wings, names
of flowers along miles of mountain
streams and foot hills.
“Finds it difficult to socialize…”
Runs squealing among
grandparents, uncles and aunts–
cousins he chases in play.
Gathers willow roots with elders,
listens to legends of raven and bear,
sings with dancers till fires die.
“Daydreams a lot…”
Thinks in his tribal language
about the power of eagle feathers.
path of geese flying south, water
slapping against fish boats; recalls
the taste of hazel nuts, deer meat,
the touch of wrinkled hands.
Different in the way he thinks about earth,
sacred and unowned, healing ground
close to a mothering power, kinship
with hawk, whale, Northern red oak;
remembers a heart that strays
turns to stone.
© Kay Mullen