When we needed someone

Mamang Dai

When we needed someone
I cried for the shaman,
seeking the words of generations to accompany us,
Where are all the shamans?

We needed someone
to mend these bones, lift this arm,
dress this shoulder, spine, collar, with fine ornaments
and place a spell under these feet
to heal this heart
and reclaim life and splendour.

The strong, black beetle is an uncle
visiting on the back of the wind
this rainy morning.

No, words are not dead.
Rustling through the trees
the shamans are in the garden,
their craft is not ended,
recounting each weathered moment
like beads, in a long conversation
to win mastery over time.

We meet here every day—
shamans, prayers, spirits.
The bees bring me a message:
This is for your protection,
Remember, and believe
the truth about land—-
rainwater, sleep.

The truth about love—-
eating flowers and thorns.

The truth about life—
eating flowers and thorns.

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First published in Charles River Journal Issue 10, Pen and Anvil Press 2020