An End to Freedom
There upon the snow I see it spattered.
Thin red trail of life about to fade.
Paw prints in the powdered snow,the only other mark to show
Where this once noble creature quietly laid.
Though my life and dreams have now been shattered,
Still I must conclude this cruel deed.
Following that bloody spoor, I pray I’ll find him well before
His spirit goes to where it can’t be freed.
We’d survived alone with few possessions.
Me my bow, and him his stealth and speed.
Both had years of hard earned skill, but neither one would ever kill
The more than we could carry, eat or need.
Sometimes I would see his paw’s impressions.
Often he would catch my wind-borne scent.
Once or twice I caught his eye. We’d watch as brothers, passing by,
But never go the way the other went.
Then the settlers came upon these ranges.
Bringing foreign beasts and different ways.
We’d been living high and free. The land was shared by him and me
While spirits watched us from the ancient days.
Soon we saw the first of many changes.
Trees were felled and streams were damned and filled.
Game was mercilessly shot, and left, most often, there to rot
Upon the blood stained land where it was killed.
Soon there was so little food for killing.
That first winter left us nearly dead.
He and I both quietly knew the land would no more carry two
Both needing to be regularly fed.
First we shared, as brothers, true and willing.
Each would leave some kill to feed his friend.
Then the railway pushing west dispersed the herds, and killed the rest,
We knew our time was coming to an end.
Late at night a Manitou would find me.
Speak the ancient words I knew were true.
Steady came the quiet voice to tell me I must make the choice
To live as then and die, or start anew.
Waking dreams kept trying to remind me
I must help my brother stay alive.
With him now my spirit ran, but there within the time of man
I knew he was too gentle to survive.
So I left my hills and spirit brother,
Hoping without me he’d find more food.
That was all I had to give. My freedom, so that he might live.
My noble past to join this savage brood.
There I tried to live as someone other.
Learn their selfish ways my soul decried.
‘Till my spirit screamed aloud to tell my heart, once strong, once proud
How fast my soul had strangled there, and died.
That was when I walked back to the ranges.
Bow upon my back and knife to hand.
That was when I heard the gun and saw my brother fall, then run.
And that was when I came to understand.
There are some who’ll never live with changes.
There are some who’s freedom they can’t give.
Him and me, our souls must fly forever ‘tween the grass and sky
Where savagery of man could never live.
Passing then the two who shot my brother,
Hearing then their mocking of my friend,
Boasting he would die in pain, no more to kill a calf again.
I gave to them a fast and peaceful end.
May they find forgiveness from Our Mother,
May their haunted spirits lie at rest.
One with eye’s yet open wide, his throat now slit from side to side,
The other with my arrow in his chest.
Now upon the snow I see them spattered.
All my brother’s hopes before they died.
Paw prints in the powdered snow, the only other mark to show
Where this once noble creature quietly cried.
Now with my hope destitute and shattered,
I must let my brother’s spirit free.
Following that bloody spoor, I have to free his soul before
I turn the knife and do the same to me.