16 | From the Editor
A Recollection: Mohawk Poet Peter Blue Cloud
Down the hill, through the forest, across the dirt road and over the creek, through a meadow and up a gentle rise into the forest again, lived a childhood friend of mine. Louis knew when I was coming to visit, hearing the resounding thwap of my shoes down the driveway. His father was the Mohawk poet Peter Blue Cloud, an important Native American voice in contemporary literature and a recipient of the American Book Award.
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A small gathering of us stood together quietly, among lichened rocks and the burgundy serpents of manzanita, within an amphitheater of blue oak phantom-glow. Above the hard-won garden and its whirling dervishes of chicken wire and fenceposts aslant, on the side of that old and wild hill, we watched the setting sun slowly pouring its orange blossom honey down the coastal mountain range into the Pacific.
After a time, Peter broke the silence and said, “People have stood here before.” By this he meant, Native Americans. It was an illumination that flared bold and timeless in that moment, surging to meet the sun’s last rays, sparking bright a magic true. An embrace from an ancient people who had walked that land long before we came to be there, proffered in this time by one who walked it still. I was puzzled by his proclamation, but his words stayed with me.
Decades later, as I meandered by that very spot, down which seasonal flows of rainwater dance erosional each year, looking closely at the details of my surroundings, I saw it. An arrowhead. Light brown and barely discernible within a cradle of rocks. A gift long held in the graniteclay grasp of the hill, now given. The only arrowhead I’ve ever found. I wondered of its story, how it got to be there and of the hunter-warrior who had knapped its new form into being. The artifact of an energy pathway who had felt the bright sun warm and the soft rain cool in this life and had become, perhaps, a whisper of wind pushing through the pine needles under a sharp sky. Had it fallen into the abyss of the future on that sunhewn hill during a hunt? A skirmish? During an escape from a great and golden grizzly bear? It pierced the present, exclaiming as thunder, flashing loud in my mind.
How that arrowhead came to rest at that very spot on the hill will always intrigue me. That Peter Blue Cloud had read the story of that hill as clearly as he saw the colors of the sunset radiating before him, that he knew its story innately, will always warm my memory and inform my sense of place when there, home, like the arrowhead, on that old and wild hill.