The Last Picture of the Navajo Dog
by Larry Brody
NOTE FROM LB
D’neh, the Navajo Dog, is back in this remembrance of days far more glorious than any I’ve experienced that are part of showbiz. Who knew real life could be so shiny and bright?
I Met My Friend The Wild Indian At Dawn
I met my friend the wild Indian at dawn,
On a walk with the Navajo dog. She saw
Him first, moving toward us in the vanishing dark,
And for an instant she stood still and stiff,
Then ran ahead. The Navajo dog is a herder, though,
Not a warrior, and her way of defending me
Is to lead any possible enemies away. She has
Missed a few here and there, but on this morning
She was in fine form. She growled at the
Intruder, then started running obliquely,
Across a field, hoping to lure him after her,
Then cut back to me. The stranger stood his ground,
Spoke quietly. “Well, well, what’s your name?”
The Navajo dog was brought up short.
“You first,” she finally said,
And the two of them laughed as I reached them,
Each familiar with the other’s game.
The wild Indian held out his hand to me.
“Your dog,” he said, “is not your dog,
But you indeed are her man.”
I looked to the dog, but she said nothing
As he sat down on the still cold ground.
Told me the story of my own life, he did.
Missed not a thing. All of me was right there
In his tale. I was used to miracles by now,
Living with magic as I was, so I never thought of
“How—?” Or “What—?” Or “Huh—?”
I just nodded, and accepted, and looked again
To the Navajo dog. “It’s okay,” she said.
“I’ve always liked the Sioux. Tough people.
Killed Custer, you know.” I sat down beside
My new friend the wild Indian, and we watched
The night finish its fade. “Tomorrow we find some
Red willow,” he said, and when he spoke
I heard the jangling of bells. “After
We’ve gathered enough we start building
The sweat lodge.” The jangling grew louder,
Bringing with it the rhythm of the dance,
And every word he said seemed a prayer.
“You need to sweat,” said my new friend. “You need to
Meet your God face to face, and hold Him to account,
Even as He holds you. The lodge will take time, and
Care, and when it’s done, the fire will be hot, at first
More than you can bear. But in the end, He will speak.
He will show Himself, and you’ll know
What of your life has been your doing,
And what was simply God’s will. Maybe you’ll be off
The hook for some big stuff. More likely, not.”
Before I could speak, the Navajo dog shook her
Head. “Call Him the Great Spirit,” she said,
“And I’ll agree. Oh, and no flesh offerings. The Kid
Isn’t ready for that.” She nosed the wild Indian’s
Shoulder, which was covered with small scars.
Each one, I learned later, had been made with a
Quick scrape of the knife during a sweat. His God
Wanted meat more than tobacco for the pipe.
The negotiation continued, two Indians negotiating
How best to save my soul,
And because it was a new day,
In a new world,
I ran dirt through my fingers, and felt a hope
That has filled me with strength
And purpose I never will lose,
A hope that I really could become a
Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.