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Monday, May 2, 2022

A Poem for Bleak Times--Go to Water

 by Linda Rodriguez


I missed National Poetry Month by one day for this post, but I'm going to go ahead and post a poem anyway. The world is looking rather bleak when I peer out my window, both the international scene and our own national politics and culture.

In my ancestral culture, we were taught ways to deal with times of trouble, both in our personal lives and on the wider scope of the world around us. My ancestors had a lot of experience with the bigger world around them coming in and sweeping aside everything they had tried to build in their small personal world, so in this dark moment, I turned to the experts, those who came before me.

I have been fortunate enough to live near creeks and rivers in my urban environment for the past 50 or more years. This meant I was always able to walk or drive to the nearest running water and follow the directions of my spiritual teacher to "go to water." I am not currently capable of doing this any longer, but I cling to the hope that I will be able to eventually, once again. For all of my friends and colleagues, my companions as we try to battle our way through the deadly smoke and even deadlier flames of all the fires that have broken out around us, I offer these simple directions, as they were given to me.


IN TIME OF TROUBLE


I was taught—

go to water,

running water.

Wash.

Build a small fire.

Sing a prayer.

Wash.

Offer tobacco.

Sing a prayer.

Clean up the fire.

Offer cornmeal in thanks.

Walk away,

leaving your illness

or problem

behind you.


Published in River, Blood, and Corn, 2017


8 comments:

Shari Randall said...

I, too, find solace near the water. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem and I hope you'll soon be able to find your way to the water.

Rosalie Spielman said...

Beautiful words and images. Thank you for sharing part of your heritage with us! I hope you find the calming waters soon.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thank you, Shari. I'm so glad you liked the poem.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thank you, Rosalie. Going to water is an important part of Cherokee spirituality.

Molly MacRae said...

Thank you, Linda. I hope you're able to get to running water again.

KM Rockwood said...

Water and its power bring comfort and renewal. Sometimes we need to step back and permit the accumulated wisdom of those who came before us provide guidance.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Molly, I'm glad that you liked it. Thank you for your for your well wishing.

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM, indeed, water is a great source of renewal and inner power. My ancestors knew that going to water was the best way to restore the balance in a troubled mind, body, or community.