Grand Canyon Journal
Juniper seeds are blue before they dry
Rub some on your hands
The oily fragrance is not easily forgotten.
I know what seed is, a thought, a word, an action evil or good
an hour spent with someone you hardly know.
“These are juniper seeds, dried and blessed by our medicine man
They will protect you from evil.”
That’s what the Navajo woman told when I gave her money.
She kept looking down the road as if evil were about to arrive.
“Why are you nervous?”
“Oh, I’m looking for the ranger.
I want to see if he comes.”
“What would happen?” “He might get me for the taxes.”
“What do you mean, taxes.” “I don’t take no taxes in selling.”
“This was once Navajo land, still is,
but the ranger forgets that.” She laughed.
“I am Navajo, all this land is my home, don’t need taxes,
Don’t pay Uncle Sam.
He’s not good.” She smiled.
“What do you do if the ranger comes?”
“I run and hide.”
We were on a mesa approaching the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
There was no where I could see to hide
Just wind-twisted junipers, knee high grass and red rock.
“But where do you hide?” I asked.
“Down there…” She pointed to the east.
I still saw nowhere to hide, so she said,
“Come I’ll show you.
She led me to the mesa edge,
only fifty feet away a deep canyon opened
400 feet down to a creek where pinyon pines
stood shining in the daylight.
There was no road, no trail
Only remembered ways mapped in her mind.
“Would YOU follow ME down THERE?”
“I don’t think so.” I said.
“Neither does the ranger.” She replied.
And I felt the pain of history,
The truth of her words struck a mesa in me
Opened a canyon where I too could hide,
Where evil could not find me.
I looked up Crow was flying by.
In my white man’s mind these seeds
Are only juniper seed having no power
In the mind that flies with the crow they are wings
That lift me away from evil
Float me into a canyon’s safety.
I looked and saw crow floating into the canyon pines.
I felt a power rising
a power to know the goodness of the earth
And the evil WE create…
Out of our mind.
I said goodbye to the woman, but her words,
“I have all this land for a home.”
Haunted me, all the way to Bright Angel under the Navajo blue,
Her words stayed in me, echoed in me,
From the north to the south rim, THE GRAND CANYON
Where crow flies I saw with crow eyes
Good and evil in us all, knew what I’d forgotten
The sacred gift of pure water
air fire earth
the wholeness of humanity and I heard
A voice deep within my safe canyon…
“Truth will live you
if you allow.”
If a murderer risks his life to save another,
It is still a sacred life saved.
If a thief is truly generous it is true generosity.
If a racist is merciful, it is mercy plain and simple.
If a rapist acts out of real compassion,
It is still real love,
But when a preacher lies,
the lie is larger than the truth he could have told,
When a cop kills people he is trained to protect,
it it worse than murder,
When a government uses power and fear
To oppress it’s own people
It is tyranny especially in America–
Truth is in You, let it live you.
Though you know the land as home, no one ever owns the earth
You cannot own what you are…
The constant motion of the cosmos expanding in space
in a wide expanse
Of Western Blue Sky