A joy to learn from

"Sometimes the longing in me / comes from
when I remember / the terrain of crossed
beginnings / when whales lived on land /
and we stepped out of water /
to enter our lives in air."
Linda Hogan, "Crossings"

(Porque se apasiona con esta literatura y elige cuentos como este para sus exámenes).

Joy Harjo

Wolf Warrior
For all the warriors

A white butterfly speckled with pollen joined me in my prayers yesterday morning as I thought of you in Washington. I didn’t want the pain of repeated history to break your back. In my blanket of hope I walked with you, wolf warrior, and the council of tribes to what used to be the Department of War to discuss justice. When a people institute a bureaucratic department to serve justice, then be suspicious. False justice is not justified by massive structure, just as the sacred is not confinable to buildings constructed for the purpose of worship.
_____I pray these words don’t obstruct the meaning I am searching to give you, a gift like love so you can approach that strange mind without going insane. So we can all walk with you, sober, our children empowered with the clothes of memory in which they are never hungry for love, or justice.
_____An old Cherokee who prizes wisdom above the decisions rendered by departments of justice in this world told me this story. It isn’t Cherokee but a gift given to him from the people in the north. I know I carried this story for a reason, and now I understand I am to give it to you. A young man, about your age or mine, went camping with his dogs. It was just a few years ago, not long after the eruption of Mount St. Helens, when white ash covered the northern cities, an event predicting a turning of the worlds. I imagine October and bears fat with berries of the brilliant harvest, before the freezing breath of the north settles in and the moon is easier to reach by flight without planes. His journey was a journey toward the unknowable, and that night as he built a fire out of twigs and broken boughs he remembered the thousand white butterflies climbing toward the sun when he had camped there last summer.
_____Dogs were his beloved companions in the land that had chosen him through the door of his mother. His mother continued to teach him well, and it was she who had reminded him that the sound of pumping oil wells might kill him, turn him toward money. So he and his dogs traveled out into the land that remembered everything, including butterflies, and the stories that were told when light flickered from grease.
_____That night as he boiled water for coffee and peeled potatoes he saw a wolf walking toward camp on her hind legs. It had been generations since wolves had visited his people. The dogs were awed to see their ancient relatives and moved over to make room for them at the fire. The lead wolf motioned for her companions to come with her and they approached humbly, welcomed by the young man who had heard of such goings-on but the people had not been so blessed since the church had fought for their souls. He did not quite know the protocol, but knew the wolves as relatives and offered them coffee, store meat and fried potatoes which they relished in silence. He stoked the fire and sat quiet with them as the moon in the form of a knife for scaling fish came up and a light wind ruffled the flame.
_____The soundlessness in which they communed is what I imagined when I talked with the sun yesterday. It is the current in the river of your spinal cord that carries memory from sacred places, the sound of a thousand butterflies taking flight in windlessness.
_____He knew this meeting was unusual and she concurred, then told the story of how the world as they know it had changed and could no longer support the sacred purpose of life. Food was scarce, pups were being born deformed, and their migrations, which were in essence a ceremony for renewal, were restricted by fences. The world as all life on earth knew it would end, and there was still time in the circle of hope to turn back the destruction.
_____That’s why they had waited for him, called him here from the town a day away over the rolling hills, from his job constructing offices for the immigrants. They shared a smoke and he took the story into his blood, his bones, while the stars nodded their heads, while the dogs murmured their agreement. “We can’t stay long,” the wolf said. “We have others with whom to speak and we haven’t much time.” He packed the wolf people some food to take with them, some tobacco, and they prayed together for safety on this journey. As they left the first flakes of winter began falling and covered their tracks. It was as if they had never been there.
_____But the story burned in the heart of this human from the north and he told it to everyone who would listen, including my elder friend who told it to me one day while we ate biscuits and eggs in Arizona. The story now belongs to you, too, and much as pollen on the legs of a butterfly is nourishment carried by the butterfly from one flowering to another, this is an ongoing prayer for strength for us all.