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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Homage to Mildred I. Cleghorn

Ft. Sill Chiricahua/Warm Spring Apache leader; a stateswoman, a mother,
a great-grandmother, an elder, a teacher, a prisoner of war, a proud Apache.


HER PASSING

by: Pax Riddle

A last sigh on her lips,
Her spirit released,
The world becomes blurred, unreal.

There's Grandmother smiling,
Extending her hand,
Knowing they would meet.

Now they are flying,
Above the clouds,
The assurance of her grasp.

Up, up they fly
Toward the brilliant light
Sparkles and shimmers,
Wraiths dance into sight.



Closer, closer
The phantoms transform
People? HER people
As many as stars.

Red people,
The first people,
dance and sing,
Their voices rise anew.

They're the old ones,
The chaste ones,
Unsullied by whites
Their enigmatic whispers
Heard only at night.

Choctaw and Cherokee
Yakama and Cree,
Apache and Chippewa,
Kiowa and Creek.

Oh, how they dance,
Five hundred drums
Heartbeats of nations,
Beating as one.

Grandmother dances
With beauty and grace
Like fronds in a current,
Shawl swaying in space.

Moving so stately
She watches her feet,
Lifting her eagle fan
To each honor beat.



Grandfather is singing,
He leads the drum
His resonant voice
Soars to new heights.

Now they beckon
With faces of light
They are her relations
Who fought the good fight.

Grandfathers, uncles,
Cousins and aunts,
Freed from the fetters
Of earthly life.

Then countless others
She knows are her flesh,
Tied by a sacred cord.

To First Man and First Woman,
Primeval womb,
They show her the crimson road.

Now they embrace her,
Such rapture and peace
It's the end of her journey,
Sacred circle complete.

She turns now to face us,
And speaks with her eyes.

Oh, what radiant feelings of love.




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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.


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