APACHE SECRET

July [28] 2008

(Poem)


The hardest thing is doing nothing–

in love as in life.


My boy will always believe that

right action in the end wins.

My boy does not like much 

the world of his father.


I tell him it’s not that way,

I tell him get it while you can,

but I know he’s right.


Yesterday I took him to the park and

we hid behind the bushes

quiet as two fawn

studying the dogs and wind on trees.


He said tomorrow

he will show me the Apache secret

of burying fallen soldiers by the brook.

I inquire for more detail

but he said it didn’t matter

whose soldiers they were.


Knowing nothing on Apache love

but sensing no where else in truth to turn,

I told him about my lady acquaintance,

alluding even to desires and adult matters,

which he pretended to understand.

He simply said “just be real nice to her.”


That night I called a friend, 

we had our yuks and chitchat

but my heart wasn’t there.

I yearned for the Apache secret.


We went down to the brook early 

that Saturday morning,

he walking about ten paces ahead,

occasionally stopping for small sticks.


By the side of the brook

under a large and carefully chosen mossy rock

he drew a giant X deemed for the soldier

(nothing recognizably Apache)

and then he fashioned a quick parlay of indian

chants learned, he admitted, from old reruns of

Cochise.


He reached for my hand,

had me close my eyes,

and repeat after him the following Apache prayer:


Brave soldier  who is dead,

Spirits behold,

When the good princess sits on this rock

Rise up and be free!


I gasped but the truth was transparent.

I wanted to ask how the princess

would find the rock, but I knew better.

I’m certain he saw it in my eyes.


Shaking his head like an old fur trapper

he insisted once again,

“just say it over and over.”


And precisely in that sober moment,

like the first glimpse of an eagle at early dawn,

I too felt the haunting soar of the Apache spell.

 

(1990)  

 

 

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