Cambridge Book Review

MOLE'S BLUES / Jim Stevens


Each time the grass and the trees
Lift through voices of the forest way

Mole is coming up from the ground
Digging his roots and shadows of the hill

It was first a long time ago
Degahnyagaydi I was asking for help

You are our cousin, I am saying
Who knows the way of carrying earth

Each instant ~ Every turn
Wearing no eyes but the inner eye


It was last night, in another time
I watched the whirling dancers

Coming out of the leafy air
It was spoken to me

To carve words with a face of rock
To let Grandfather Flint roll the water

Into one tooth of a blue catamount
Returning this bad thing of the moment

To a place where even Mole
Could not find the unresting Spirit


And then there became
I remember, at the dance

The thousand dragonflies
Around the arbor

Who pierced the air crazy
They also were with Whirlwind

Souls of the blood-red mushroom
How they passed into the eye so quickly

Before we knew it, Sun was passing west
Across the pines who were not sleeping


Mole knows that Dragonfly is of Sky-World
Dragonfly knows that Mole is of Earth

Degahnyagaydi who wears the red branch
On his small broad back

The heavy footprints pressing down on him
Who knows how our path stays in the heart

In knowing sorrow the soft earth turns
For the true ocean of a drum-beat


There are two thoughts informing this poem. The one is of the Spirit of Mole (Degahnyagaydi in Seneca), who lives through stories of many Native American cultures. Mole knows where all the plants are, since he lives under the surface of the Earth. So Mole is the finder and guardian of the sacred herbs.

The second thought of the poem is in remembering the sight one afternoon during grand entry of an Anishnabe powwow. Suddenly there were thousands of dragonflies circling the dance-ground.

-- J.S.

Three Poems by Jim Stevens

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