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SNAIL

IT WAS, SO, BEAUTIFUL, THE SIGHT CONTAINED TALL TREES FULL AND REACHING UP HIGH INTO THE CLEAR BLUE SKY IN A MAJESTIC CHORUS WITH THE SPARKLING WATER RIPPLING ALONG IN TANDEM. THE BRIGHT SUN GLOWED OVER IT ALL, ALL THE WAY TO THE SNOWCAPPED MOUNTAINS ON THE FAR AWAY HORIZON. EAGLES CALLED OUT TO EAGLES, BEARS RAN FREELY, STANDING UP AND DECLARING THEMSELVES, THE WOLVES IN A PACK RAN BY LIKE LATE FOR A DATE OR DINNERTIME. I WAS JUST TAKING ALL THIS BEAUTY IN WITH EAGER EYES. WHEN SUDDENLY APPEARED A OLDER INDIAN MAN, SLOWLY WALKING TOWARDS ME, AND WITH A DELIBERATE STROKE RAISED HIS LEFT HAND UP WITH THE PALM OPEN AND FACING ME, I KNOW THAT TO MEAN, HE CAME IN PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP, WE, BOTH JUST STOOD AND FACED EACHOTHER WITH NO WORDS OR ALARM. IN WHAT SEEMED LIKE A VERY LONG TIME, THE BEAUTY OF THIS NATURAL PLACE WAS JUST OVERWHELMING AND THE OLD MAN LOOKED LIKE HE BELONGED TO IT. IT JUST HUGGED US, BY BEING THERE, I CALL IT PARADISE! SLOWLY, HE SAID, WITH A SOFT VOICE, “I AM SNAIL, ONE OF YOUR MOTHERS ANCESTORS, MY NAME WAS GIEN TO ME, FOR I WAS LATE TO BE BORN, SLOW TO GROW, AND TOOK A LONG TIME TO MATURE, AND I’VE ALWAYS BE SLOW TO MOVE, TAKING DELIBERATE STEPS AND CHOREGRAPHED MOVEMENT, I FORMED THIS HARD SHELL TO COVER MY SOFT INNER FLESH, FOR, I CANNOT RUN AWAY, AND WITH LONG PAUSES, ALMOST LIKE INTERMISSION TIME AT A PLAY, SOFTLY, A CHANT GRADUALLY ASCENDED WITH A SOOTHING AND CALMING EFFECT UPON ME. SNAIL CONTINUED, “SON, WHATEVER IN NATURE THAT TAKES A LONG TIME TO APPEAR, MATURE, OCCUR OR RECOVER HAS PURPOSE AND INTENT WITHIN IT, THAT IT WILL BE CAPABLE OF DOING SOMETHING GREAT AND IMPORTANT, EVEN, IF UNKNOWN TO THE WORLD! I HAVE COME TO YOU TO GIVE YOU THIS SHELL OF ME, THE SNAIL, FOR YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE TO GIVE TO THOSE WHO REALLY NEED SOMETHING GREAT AND IMPORTANT! THOSE WITH THE GREAT NEED LONG OVERDUE, WHO HAVE CARRIED THIS SUFFERING WAY TOO LONG! IT WILL BE NEAR WHERE YOU SPENT YOUR YOUTH, IT WILL NEAR WHERE VIOLENCE HAS CHANGED MUCH. YOU SHOULD LEAVE IT IN THE HANDS OF ONE WHO IS FROM THOSE WHO HAVE ENDURED THIS SAD ORDEAL, WITH THE PAINFUL SCARS OF BRUTALITY THAT SCREAMS EVERYDAY. THAT BEAUTY, JOY, AND HEALING WILL GROW AMONGST THEM, AND, THEN IN MY HAND WAS THIS BROWN SHELL, I AS, I GO TO THE NORTHSIDE OF MINNEAPOLIS, BY THE BROADWAY CUB FOODS NEAR ASCENSION PARISH, WHERE I ATTENDED, TO LEAVE SOME FLOWERS FOR THE FLOWER POWER FLORAL ARRANGEMENT, I LEFT THE SHELL WITH ONE SETTING IT UP FOR JUNETEENTH, 2020

By Strong Buffalo

Tatanka Ohitika (Strong Buffalo) is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, AIM member and a decorated Vietnam Veteran (US Marine Corps). He has been writing and performing his original poetry around the world since 1970.