SWEAT WITHOUT END
Several men coil into the hut. Its floor is earth, the odor holy.
Fiery rocks are brought on a metal shovel until the bit blisters.
The sun has singed my skin though Iam noticeably white beneath.
“For those of you who've never sweated
this is about all our people have left.
Almost everything else has been taken.”
Our fireman closes the flap and I, knifed to nothing by the quick dark,
expire into a greater mind to recognize that light of Red Nation that ignites
my insides is more alive than thought itself.
And there are details I cannot give. Meanings unsealed by the steam
I must not refine. Words I find myself singing I did not know before.
This is a place for pray-ers and I re-embrace the power of that medium.
This is sweat too intense too remember--except
the end of Red Cloud's confession:
“And sometimes i struggle grandfather
for I have been taught an Indian is first
an individual yet one who receives strength
from his nation people grandfather.
One who owes strength to his nation people.”
This is sweat—too intense to remember—except the edge of Mohawk's lament:
“And grandfather I pray for the whites
I hear they once had tribes grandfather.
They are now confused grandfather.”
Point Conception, 1978