Friday, January 19, 2007

Sage adages of the skyfather

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Laughing Feather
For JoAnn on her birthday

There was the sudden squall in Seligman, a plague of flies as we tried to eat lunch from a cooler heavy with summer ice, the gnarled gust out of nowhere that blew us into that small mineral shop where a toothless smile gladly showed us charred meteorites that had traveled distances farther than we’d come to see them strewn on dusty sills as he added yet another butt to a stub-laden cistern made to sift gold from fool’s earth, but instead mined precious minutes from the failing lode of his lungs. There was that first night at Sunset Crater when August drizzle fell like cinder, laval and ashen between far-off flashes that torched the tent with brief streaks of flint as we huddled together for the first time.

There were the ruins at Wupatki, the anvil heat branding silence into red flagstone where high portals once beckoned wind to brush across black Sinaqua hair that went ungathered as moonless corn swelling in monsoon. There was the road of broken rain as we passed chapter houses and trinket stands whose burmashave signs pleaded for us to turn around, that Nice Indians Behind You would stoically sell rubber tomahawks, suction-cup arrows, and lapis Kokopellis in the name of the venerable Chief Snakehorse.

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There was modern poverty on the Navajo rez, coiled hissing threaded through the ribs of the Cow Springs Trading Post bleached skeletal by graffiti and neglect; the same madwoman driver I encountered two years before on the road near Elephant Feet. There was our deliberate passing amid the measured shuffle of noble lineage at the supermarket in Kayenta, where the high-boned faces were all oval and sunwashed as olives in Assisi.

There was the honed Agathla chiseling cobalt in a marbled sky; Three Sisters and the thunderswift mesas of Monument Valley where darkness quarried onyx before our headlamps carved the way out as we shaped legends of Bear Woman and Coyote Boy, the sage adages of the ineffable Skyfather as told to an accidental guide who first whispered your true spirit name of Laughing Feather. There was Mesa Verde whose fluted palaces echoed from sheer cliffsides; the ricochet of forked fire in Pagosa Springs shattering saberhorn above our leaking tent, the ground trembling as terrible buffalo passed low overhead. In the Acoma, there were kiva ladders set at starry angles that could never carry out all the dead yet alive within the pale walls of the blood-borne chapel in Sky City.

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And there was more, too much more to spill all here: a lone cloud hovering above a shadow-saddled mountain; the buckshot road sign with a one-armed Apache mounted on a rusty palomino; dust-deviled furytails circling cankered saguaro; a shivering porcupine treed in a glazed knot of sundown copper; crown-point elk grazing along the road to Chama. Where go the voices we have spoken with, the sagas invented and forgotten, ferried off by a wing of brevity too burdensome for birds and their kind? There is only the moment and the moment endures in spite of what history would have us believe. There is all this then, this and us in the midst of all this; travelers returning and travelers continuing, wanderers led by rings slipped through the nose of a fancy; moving as if time were nothing more than a luxurious plumage, the golden bellow of a laughing feather.

Joseph Gallo
January 19, 2007

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Blogger Joni parried...

What a beautiful travelogue of life by moments. Outstanding.

January 22, 2007 9:53 AM  
Blogger Joseph Gallo parried...

Thank you, Joni. Our travels make their marks as you well know. The moments accrue and dissipate, sometimes surviving in the amber of poetry.

January 23, 2007 12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous parried...

What a wonderful reminder of our trip together. . .a very nice birthday present. Thank you, too, for giving me that sweet name, Laughing Feather.


January 24, 2007 7:26 PM  
Blogger Joseph Gallo parried...

Walking Lame Cloud says to Laughing Feather:

That reminds me of something the Great Skyfather said.

He said: The true traveler goes a long away without . . . no, wait . . .

He said: The long way is the true way of the trav- . . . no, that's not it either.

He said: You go on without me; I'm gonna stay home and watch the game.


January 24, 2007 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Laurie parried...

Joseph once again your writing is pure poetry. I love your use of language. So descriptive. I felt I was pulled along through that moment also.

January 29, 2007 5:11 AM  
Blogger billie parried...

This was a wonderful reminder of a family trip we took several years ago. Mesa Verde and Wupatki were favorite spots. You've captured the magic of those places.


January 29, 2007 5:31 AM  
Blogger Joseph Gallo parried...

You know, one can write about a particular thing several times, say a journey, and each time it would come out different. As you both well know. To those of you who might read these comments, please visit everyone's blogsites above as linked in their names. See exactly what I mean and enjoy some great views in word and vision. :-)

Thanks to you both, Laurie & Billie.

January 29, 2007 11:26 AM  
Blogger Joseph Gallo parried...

PS: You can find the links also under blogword in Mantis In A Teacup, Camera Obscura, and Litterbox News. Also, under vision in Laurie Leehane at her Nevermore Studio.

January 29, 2007 11:31 AM  

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