Sheila Williams ~ Singing Cloud


Sheila Williams ~ Singing Cloud: They Call!

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry
Awarded: September 28, 2007
Weary beyond belief,
a tiredness that is bone-deep,
one more step I tell myself,
but I can no longer remember
what we are running from.

Then I hear a baby whimper,
look around, and see the children,
worn and dusty, bleeding feet,
faces gray, and shoulders drooping.

Into my spirit I pull strength,
knowing there will be no relief,
we must keep moving or they will find us,
drag us back with chains upon us.

To the mountains we have fled,
the soldiers chase for the bounty
on our headstone skin, two skins,
many scalps, mostly children –
but it does not matter.

How can I slow down when they need me,
please Creator help me to save them,
so little time and so far to go,
one step more, then rest a little.

Soon we must find safety,
cave, cove, or valley, someplace to blend in,
shadows grow the land is darkening,
too often now we stumble on nothing.

There, I see it, the cave is waiting,
hurry now little ones – we can make it:
gather close and pick up sticks,
the men are checking before we enter.

All is clear, no bear or wolf, no panther’s lair
we can stop here
with eyes that seem to be filled with sand;
I dig and set the fire pit.

Small fire dances into life,
there is so little to add to the pot,
small ones drop where they stand,
asleep it seems before they hit the ground.

With all the strength left to my body,
I check each one whose feet are bloody,
so few; we count less than twenty,
from a village of two hundred.

Behind the mountain the sun is setting,
flaming red, yellow, and purple,
sharing with us Creator’s glory,
giving hope where there should be none.

One more day we have outrun them,
one more breath drawn in freedom,
there is no time for tears;
all that was lost that we held dear.

Plans now must be laid,
families left must be kept safe,
here we will stay and rest,
within the heart of our Mother Earth.

Sleep now grandmother
I hear the young ones whisper,
you must rest you cannot leave us;
you are our past, just as they are the future.

If you listen to the spirit songs,
who will teach what we must know,
who will keep us connected
to the knowledge of our ancestors?

They know not how dear the price,
of the song I hear of peaceful life,
softly calling deep and low,
come it is your time to go!