Looking through old notes I had saved from my time in Anake Outdoor School (September 2012-May 2013), I found a half-finished poem I scribbled at the campfire when our tribe stopped in Del Valle, California, in early February 2013 on our way further south to the Transverse Mountains and the Los Padres forest region of Quail Springs. Here’s the polished poem to better convey that sense of joy.
Night over the fire, coming down from
the Great North far now
from the land of Sitka and Birch
into Del Valle, hills green and brown
in the early spring evening.
Circle fire somewhere in the latitudes of
big open stars. Song of the clicking insects,
their language. Brother Coyote has arrived
and Sister Crow sets the table,
plates made for the ancestors,
communion of food chains all the way back.
Circle round for stories and songs.
Some are anointed with new names.
Others that were old are new-born.
Skin smells of bow-drill smoke, says
“I will tell you someday”.
Bright color is the work of the sun,
but everything is spilled into
shimmering darkness there
in the Milky Way overhead.