the initiation of a young hunter

 

 

it happened at the place of the singing grandfathers

   in the fullness of the seventh moon

 

it happened like this

   a young man entered the forest, alone

no food in his belly, no warmth in his heart

 

for he was dying, he had been hunted

   with poisoned arrow

 one, two, three, four times he had been shot

   with poisoned arrow

for he had been hunted, and he was dying

 

and when he lay himself down 

   in the water

and the huntress came to claim him

   he did not cry out

when she pulled her long knife

   he did not struggle 

when she made the first cut

 

but he did begin to sing 

   as she did her work

in the water

   at the place of the singing grandfathers

in the fullness of the seventh moon

 

he sang like this

mountain daughter, water lover

   you’ve hunted well, you’ve claimed my soul

 

the huntress was pleased with his song

   as she cut his body open

and carried the meat, bones, hide, and 

   singing-head of him back to her camp

 

as she cooked his flesh for dinner

   he sang

mountain daughter, water lover

   you’ve hunted well, you’ve claimed my soul

 

as she lay down to sleep

   he sang

mountain daughter, water lover

   you’ve hunted well, you’ve claimed my soul

 

as she entered the dreamgate

   he sang

mountain daughter, water lover

   you’ve hunted well, you’ve claimed my soul

 

in her dreaming

   she became a young deer

and the song, a tall and strong hunter

   with bow in hand

and still he sang 

mountain daughter, water lover

   you’ve hunted well, you’ve claimed my soul

 

she ran from him

   but not so far, so she could still hear

his song. He came close, close

   arrow raised now

and she would run

 

it happened like this 

   many times

 a slow dance, a courted knowing

   a flowing understanding

between Human and Deer

   hunter and hunted

at the place of the singing grandfathers

   in the fullness of the seventh moon

 

and when she finally gave herself 

   to the faithful hunter

this is what she said

 

you who sing the song of my dreaming heart 

you who have tracked my wanderings

you who have known the lady of the water

you who have received my poisoned arrows

   one, two, three, four times

you who have given the fullness of your life and death

   in the water

at the place of the singing grandfathers

   in the fullness of the seventh moon

 

i take you as my lover, my hunter, my husband

to tend my body, to know my ways

to protect and care for me and my people

as you would your own 

 

my flesh, my heart, my bones, are yours

hold them in reverence

and you will be a great hunter

your people will always have meat

 

as she took his arrow into her

   soft body, he wept 

as he sang to her

  mountain daughter, water lover

you’ve hunted well, you’ve claimed my soul

 

this is how the Deer people and the Human people

   came to be married

this is the old agreement between the hunter

   and the hunted

this is how you must go to the forest

   empty, wounded, shot with poisoned arrow

calling in the huntress

   with your songs of grief and praise

giving yourself fully

   to the wild edge of longing

in the water

   at the place of the singing grandfathers

in the fullness of the seventh moon

 

 

 

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