Posted by: Abe's Blog | October 21, 2010

M’laiksini Yaina

The surface of the water is still, cut only by the prow of the canoe and the rythymic dipping of the paddle. The mist of the morning rises like ghosts and blankets the lake, softening sound. Two Bears moves with the silence of the practiced, his strokes smooth and sure and strong. Bird Song sits in the bow, facing him. Her raven hair is braided and held in place with a band beaded of the smallest snail shells. Two Bears watches her face, the curve of her high cheeks, the fullness of her dark lips, and his eyes meet hers and his heart beats toward his death.

Bird Song pulls the bear skin tighter against the morning air. The pink light of the rising sun reflects off the snow-dusted peak of M’laiksini Yaina. This mountain Two Bears had climbed, fasting for seven days before he was given his vision and returned to offer Bird Song his hand. This was in the happy time, before the Sharp Knives came, before the terror and the grief, before the burning of the village. Bird Song can think of this no more and looks away from the mountain. She touches her belly.

Two Bears bleeds steadily as he paddles. He watches Bird Song touch her rounded stomach. He dips his paddle and moves the smooth water aside. He can see her grief. He can feel it like a wind, he can taste its bitter flavor. He thinks of their short life together and he thanks The Great One for the time he was given with her. His blood sloshes against the sides of the craft, staining his moccasins. He sees the far shore now, the pines and firs looming like green shadows through the mist.

He thinks of his quest on the high peak, the waiting and the hunger, the fear and the pride, and finally, the roaring and beautiful vision that was poured out of the sky for him and him alone. He is Two Bears, son of the chief, grandson of the mighty Charging Bull, and the last of his line.

Sounds are drifting through the mist now. A chorus of screaming calls, the raiding cries of the Achomawi warriors as they pull through the lake. Two Bears does not look back, but quickens his strokes, the muscles of his bare arms rippling with the effort. Bird Song looks to his face and their eyes meet again. She knows what she must do, but for an instant she considers abandoning the race and joining Two Bears on the journey to the Sky Lands, and then the canoe is scraping against sand and she is standing, leaping from the side, and moving towards the shore and the darkness of the forest beyond. She turns a last time and Two Bears is standing and watching her. He places his hand against his heart, then points to the trees. An arrow splashes into the water beside him. He points again towards the deep forest, then turns toward his pursuers. Another arrow slams into the canoe and Two Bears pulls his own bow and begins to sing as he shoots with careful aim.

Great Father, hear my song.
Listen to me now as You did on M’laiksini Yaina.
Throw your great bear skin over Bird Song and make her invisible.
Give her wings to fly and the feet of a doe.
Watch over my child and keep him safe.
These things of You I ask,
And I give my spirit back intoYour hands.



  1. That is fantastic. you have so much emotion in such a compact space!

    • Thank you, sir. I was inspired to write this after driving through this country for hours at night. The dreams of the weary, eh?

  2. I don’t know why this is so, but it is: the imagery of this reminds me of my favorite poem, William Stafford’s “Traveling Through the Dark.”

    That is high praise, and intended as such. Like I said, I don’t know why I felt that, but now I’ll be thinking about it for awhile. I love when that happens!

    • Thank you so much, HC! I am not familiar with William Stafford, so now I need to go and find that so I can understand the nature of your praise 🙂

  3. I have Awopaho and Souixsilian mixed in with Italian blood. Seriously, I have great respect for the basic animism of Native American religion. Such a reverence and respect for nature and Mother Earth and the Great Father should be a guiding compassfor 21st Century man.

    • Thank you for your comment, sir. And thank you for reading.

  4. Well done! Mrs. Dawson would be proud…lol

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