is an online magazine of the literary arts.

5 September 2010 | Vol. 10, No. 3

Sleepwalker in the Medicine Wheel

The spine snapped in two.

Showers of sparks—burning snowflakes—then out.

His rib-punctured lung…       Stop it.

                                                Start here.

No clouds, sun pouring into my face,

Sloshing the pulse with its flood of color.

The many miles gone carrying the weight

From this high place to home

Where my brother lies broken, the rain-black

Roof, slippery Sunday shoes: the story of his fall

Scribbled out, signed in stars wheeling unseen

Above these dropped stones. Tribal councils

Have decreed the long walk to this mesa—

Old rock, earth root, snow dust, stone spine

Among the Big Horns—rams off there, on watch.

Blackness in the mouth of their walking.

I have stepped in the ancestors' steps,

Walked for my brother under the hand

Of the sun to which I raise closed eyes

To ask again. I have no prayer bundle

But this bag of bones, this schooled

Skull & its clapper tongue, now still

And dumb and still they come, fire wheels

Whirling in the spoked sun, wheels of fire

Taking my brother where he must go,

Wheels within wheels spinning a cold flame,

Feather of soot each of us must hold, each dark

That shatters in that red tide. Time returns paralyzed

From before the light was born, the blood tide

Returns the sun. Tied to this chain link fence

Rattling around this mountain windblown wheel,

Prayer flags flap their wings for the far, stunted pines.

                                                Little brother,

Nothing lifts. The connection gone dead,

The pulse burned out. We will never survive

That dark again, where you walked in your sleep

And I followed, saying nothing, where you spoke

In your sleep, and I answered. Buried in the heart

Of the wheel once was a buffalo skull, its sockets filled

With long grasses. Now it's blind & deaf and gone. Circling

Left, always moving with the sun, I go walking on.

About the author:

Gregory Donovan is Senior Editor of the online journal Blackbird and author of the poetry collection Calling His Children Home, winner of the Devins Award, as well as poetry, essays, and fiction published in the Kenyon Review, the Southern Review, New England Review, Chautauqua, storySouth, MiPOesias, the Southern Quarterly, and elsewhere. He teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University, and helped establish its study abroad programs in Scotland and in Peru.



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