Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Word Hopi Means Peace’

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

Son.”

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

Lost somewhere,

Or sidetracked,

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.