Cambridge Book Review

HE WHO COMBS / Jim Stevens

(the presences of October 12, 1992)

After everything, I am walking back into the pine trees
And I think of Hayenwentha, Wise One now ages old
Spirit-light streaming through the house of long needles

Hayenwentha walking twenty-three days across the storms
Grieving his way through the four-thousand bad birds
Flying toward his shadow ~ Last night, eyes held

By Mother Earth, he was seeing those of his words
In such power, for the ebb and flow of thirteen Moons
Themselves gathering in the ocean of his daughters

While now the day turns, Crows settle our heads like black angels
And we gather around the mushrooms of this other world
Appearing down the shadows caught bright in the earth

As we consider these Old-Men-of-the-Woods
I am gathering thoughts of brothers who talked with Eagles
They come as lightning buried between roots of the pines

For in the earlier light, on top of Hill of Spider Woman
I had given the Thanksgiving that True-People are still here
Going around like smoke in the hawk-laden air

The words of Hayenwentha and his brother who rode the white stone
And the people of him said on this day his own special burden
It was He Who Combed the Snakes from the man's hair


On this day, while out at Aztalan, the thought came to me that Hayenwentha would have been born on a day carried by the same Spirit. Hayenwentha's life, before he met The Peacemaker, was very like the turmoil brought about by the European imposition on Turtle Island. The presence of the two men, and their wisdom-teachings, could still turn our confused and strife-ridden days.

-- J.S.

Three Poems by Jim Stevens

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