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Salat Days

Salat Days by Michael R. Burch (dedicated to my grandfather, Paul Ray Burch Sr.) I remember how my grandfather used to pick poke salat ... though first, usually, he’d stretch back in the front porch swing, dangling his long thin legs, watching the sweat bees drone, talking about poke salat— how easy it was to find if you knew where to look for it ... standing in dew-damp clumps by the side of a road, shockingly green, straddling fence posts, overflowing small ditches, crowding out the less-hardy nettles. “Nobody knows that it’s there, lad, or that it’s fit tuh eat with some bacon drippin’s or lard.” “Don’t eat the berries. You see—the berry’s no good. And you’d hav’ta wash the leaves a good long time.” “I’d boil it twice, less’n I wus in a hurry. Lawd, it’s tough to eat, chile, if you boil it jest wonst.” He seldom was hurried; I can see him still ... silently mowing his yard at eighty-eight, stooped, but with a tall man’s angular gray grace. Sometimes he’d pause to watch me running across the yard, trampling his beans, dislodging the shoots of his tomato plants. He never grew flowers; I never laughed at his jokes about The Depression. Years later I found the proper name—“pokeweed”—while perusing a dictionary. Surprised, I asked why anyone would eat a weed. I still can hear his laconic reply ... “Well, chile, s’m’times them times wus hard.” Native American Proverb loose translation by Michael R. Burch Before you judge a man for his sins be sure to trudge many moons in his moccasins. Native American Proverb by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux loose translation by Michael R. Burch A man must pursue his Vision as the eagle explores the sky's deepest blues. Native American Proverb loose translation by Michael R. Burch Let us walk respectfully here among earth's creatures, great and small, remembering, our footsteps light, that one wise God created all. Cherokee Travelers' Blessing I translation by Michael R. Burch I will extract the thorns from your feet. For yet a little while, we will walk life's sunlit paths together. I will love you like my own brother, my own blood. When you are disconsolate, I will wipe the tears from your eyes. And when you are too sad to live, I will put your aching heart to rest. Cherokee Travelers' Blessing II translation by Michael R. Burch Happily may you walk in the paths of the Rainbow. Oh, and may it always be beautiful before you, beautiful behind you, beautiful below you, beautiful above you, and beautiful all around you where in Perfection beauty is finished. Cherokee Travelers' Blessing III translation by Michael R. Burch May Heaven’s warming winds blow gently there, where you reside, and may the Great Spirit bless all those you love, this side of the farthest tide. And wherever you go, whether the journey is fast or slow, may your moccasins leave many cunning footprints in the snow. And when you look over your shoulder, may you always find the Rainbow. Earthbound by Michael R. Burch Tashunka Witko, better known as Crazy Horse, had a vision of a red-tailed hawk at Sylvan Lake, South Dakota. In his vision he saw himself riding a spirit horse, flying through a storm, as the hawk flew above him, shrieking. When he awoke, a red-tailed hawk was perched near his horse. Earthbound, and yet I now fly through the clouds that are aimlessly drifting ... so high that no sound echoing by below where the mountains are lifting the sky can be heard. Like a bird, but not meek, like a hawk from a distance regarding its prey, I will shriek, not a word, but a screech, and my terrible clamor will turn them to clay— the sheep, the earthbound. When Pigs Fly by Michael R. Burch On the Trail of Tears, my Cherokee brothers, why hang your heads? Why shame your mothers? Laugh wildly instead! We will soon be dead. When we lie in our graves, let the white-eyes take the woodlands we loved for the hoe and the rake. It is better to die than to live out a lie in so narrow a sty. These nights bring dreams of Cherokee shamans whose names are bright verbs and impacted dark nouns, whose memories are indictments of my pallid flesh... and I hear, as from a great distance, the cries tortured from their guileless lips, proclaiming the nature of my mutation. -Michael R. Burch, from "Mongrel Dreams" Native Americans understood the "circle of life" better than their white oppressors... When we sit in the Circle of the People, we must be responsible because all Creation is related and the suffering of one is the suffering of all and the joy of one is the joy of all and whatever we do affects everything in the universe. —"Lakota Instructions for Living" by White Buffalo Calf Woman, translated by Michael R. Burch Elegy for a little girl, lost by Michael R. Burch ... qui laetificat juventutem meam ... She was the joy of my youth, and now she is gone. ... requiescat in pace ... May she rest in peace. ... amen ... What is life? The flash of a firefly. The breath of a winter buffalo. The shadow scooting across the grass that vanishes with sunset. —Blackfoot saying, translation by Michael R. Burch Speak less thunder, wield more lightning. — Apache proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch The more we wonder, the more we understand. — Arapaho proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch Adults talk, children whine. — Blackfoot proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch We will be remembered tomorrow by the tracks we leave today. — Dakota proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch No sound's as eloquent as a rattlesnake's tail. — Navajo saying, translation by Michael R. Burch Dreams beget success. — Maricopa proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch Knowledge interprets the past, wisdom foresees the future. — Lumbee proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch The troublemaker's way is thorny. — Umpqua proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch Keywords/Tags: Salad Days, Salat Days, Poke Salad, Poke Salat, Pokeweed, Native American, Cherokee, Proverb

Copyright © | Year Posted 2019

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