“So I dressed myself in a sacred manner”* and went and stood out beside the highway, where endless people passed by in speeding cars. Many looked but few saw me, like an old eagle fallen to the ground. Some children pointed in my direction; some teenagers laughed and made humiliating gestures. To most, I remained as I had always been—an invisible presence passing among them.
When the wind turned black like smoke from a raging fire, I ran in the shape of a fox into my fox’s burrow and slept beside the root of the last tree, which is also the world tree and tree of life. Only half of the tree was already burned and the other half was now burning. Not like a tree at all, but more like a cross of nails soaked in petroleum and set ablaze in a torment of madness. But the last tree still, because the waters had departed the Earth and the grandfather trees of ancient woodlands had long since sickened and perished.
The people in their cars went up into the blackened sky as flames of anger, as foul odors, and descended again as ashes. But I slept in a fox’s burrow with my body in a dream-payer, wrapped around the breathing root—for the root held the breath of memory—and dreamed there, in the long, loneliness of night, of butterflies risen into light of day and of frogs, resurrected, with their musical throats and soft bellies, giving birth once more to ponds and rivers.
“So I dressed myself in a sacred manner,” and climbed up to the top of the mountain that was bleeding away the last of its glacier and cried until the sound of the peal of thunder was the same as the sound of my cracking heart.
*words from the Oglala Lakota holy man and visionary Hehaka Sapa, Black Elk