by Larry Brody
NOTE FROM LB
The Navajo Dog and I had many years’ worth of adventure together. We went places where we experienced things so powerful that they punched through the armor I had developed to defend my Asperger’s soul. Yet somehow my friend and I survived to tell true tales like the one that follows, a memory of something I wish had never had to happen…yet will hold onto even when my body is dust.
The Word Hopi Means Peace
The word Hopi means “peace,” but
A war rages there. I found out about it
During a visit with the Navajo dog. The Hopi
Elder was about to go to a meeting with—
Get this—a member of the U.N. The Hopi
Wanted the U.N. to investigate Indian
Life, and force changes. While we were
Getting ready for the trek up Big Mountain,
Where the meeting was to be held, the elder
Got a phone call. His son had just been
Arrested by rangers from the Bureau of
Indian Affairs. The charge was driving while
Drunk. Since the youth had left us only
Moments earlier, completely sober, this
Didn’t make sense, and the Hopi
Elder, the Navajo dog, and I piled into my
Truck to see what was going on.
We got to the gas station where the rangers
And the young Hopi were, and he was in
Handcuffs, struggling and cursing, while
A small crowd looked on.
He stank of whiskey also, if he’d been doused
Like in a bad movie. The rangers
Were both Indians, one Hopi, one Navajo.
They apologized to the Hopi elder for
Having to bring in his son. Unfortunately,
They added, they would also have to bring
In his truck.
Now this truck was the elder’s only transportation,
His only way to get to the meeting if I hadn’t been
There. The Navajo dog and I exchanged glances,
And she nodded. “I saw this picture,” she said.
“Hell,” I said, “I wrote it.”
“Hush,” said the elder. “Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.”
“All you know is peace,” said the Navajo dog.
“For four hundred years your people have
Thought all would be fine.
My people know different,” she said, and:
“Listen, I have some connections. Let me see
What I can do.
It all depends,” she added, “on if I can find a
Way to get through.”
And with that the Navajo dog began chanting.
She danced, and howled, and moaned. Her
Paws were like beaters, and she gave a
Steady heartbeat to the earth. The rangers
Stared at this crazy animal, and so did the
Others looking on. Some offered advice
About how to stop fits. One of the rangers
Actually reached for his gun.
Then the sky clouded over, thunder
Clapped, and lightning exploded!
And new voices joined in from the sky.
We stared upward, and saw the Kachinas,
Hopi ancestors, gods, helmeted,
Horned, and feathered, and they were all
Staring down. Huge, they were, like
Children who played with human-sized dolls.
The spirits looked at the rangers, and at the
Hopi elder’s son. They looked at the
Dancing Navajo dog.
Then they spoke together, in a chorus
That made the mesas shake. Buttes
Quivered, trees bent, people threw
Themselves to the ground. I didn’t speak
The language, but I felt its meaning
Drive through me, lightning flashing old
Images in my soul.
I saw birth. I saw growing things.
I saw endings.
A people gathered in prayer.
Sky cities merging all into one.
And I knew the Kachinas were speaking of
The Unity they saw as life under this sun.
More thunder resounded. More lightning
Crashed down. Then, just as they had appeared,
The spirits were gone. The Navajo dog
Sat calmly, looked around as though
Everyone else was crazier than she.
The rangers backed to their horses, spoke
Quietly, then came forward again.
One of them unlocked their prisoner’s cuffs.
The other handed the Hopi elder the keys
To his truck. “Take the boy home,
Sober him up, we’re sorry,” they said,
And the Navajo dog blew out a
Noseful of dust.
“Take him home, we’re sorry,”
They said again,
And the dog yipped in quiet approval this time.
The rangers climbed into their saddles,
Rode off, and the Hopi elder turned to the
Navajo dog. “Thank you,” he said.
“They didn’t do it for me,” said the Navajo
Dog. “Nor did they do it for you, or your
The Hopi elder nodded. His eagle’s eyes
Glinted. He said I word I didn’t know, but
I knew what it meant: “For all.”
We went to the meeting in two vehicles,
His truck and mine. It was a rough ride,
And along the way we stopped at a hogun
And picked up a Navajo farmer, an old
Lady in turquoise, who immediately
Recognized the Navajo dog.
They talked about other wars they had
Been in together, and rejoiced at
Being able to fight again.
When we got to the meeting place,
It was like a festival, with food, drink, and
A rock ‘n’ roll band.
But the U.N. representative must have gotten
Or arrested for drunk driving,
For he never even showed his face.
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.