Dakota Medicine Man
Set on his table-lap the turtle accepts the gaze of the Shaman,
200 million years of life wisdom radiates up and outward,
Spiral vortex of confused coherence generates whirling genius,
Dissolves Shaman’s arms and legs, melds them into the earth,
Informs the healing way on whose back we all travel.
Earth begins and ends in dirt, the soil of our souls,
Carries our simple relatives we name algae, fungi, nematodes,
Grows the healing plants, animals and incantations
Shaman knows from his insides out, beyond the edges,
Recollects himself from the dissolution the turtle demands,
Buffalo horn headdress, chants, prayers create connection,
Plants becomes herbs for healing and soothing,
Intuition born of mingling into earth begins a trial
and error of thirty thousand human generations.
We blood and bone children of the mystery
that moves through timeless space and endless time,
Extrusions of mother earth, too complex to imagine,
Our core shared with every living expression,
Built of her atom and essence, molecule and dipole,
Almost chimp, not quite dolphin, less so cat,
Even less strawberry, 60% banana, 90% turtle.
Hard shelled symbol and bearer of longevity and health,
Mythic foundation of life’s beginnings on this planet,
Our lunar cycle real-time hard copy magic of meaning,
Every shell with thirteen plates encircled by twenty eight more,
One for each lunar month and one for each day of each month,
Universal cosmic energy and order etched in keratin shells,
Vibrating toward our own keratin hair and nails and minds,
Shaman’s energetic vortex creates meaning for healing,
Translates nature into nurture, our gift from the great mother.
This poem was written after the artwork Dakota Medicine Man, by Oscar Howe (USA) 1968. View it at 11:41 in the video above.
Corey Weinstein’s poetry has been published in Vistas and Byways, The New Verse News, Forum (City College of San Francisco), California State Poetry Society, Abandoned Mine and Jewish Currents, and he wrote and performed a singspiel called Erased: Babi Yar, the SS and Me. He is an advocate for prisoner rights and founded California Prison Focus, and he led the American Public Health Association’s Prison Committee for many years. In his free time, he plays the clarinet in a local jazz band, his synagogue choir and woodwind ensembles.
The Ekphrastic Review
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