a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Beasts, and the Children
The Sioux used to tell a story about Creator. He carved the first people from the side of a mountain, made out of granite. White people did not abide the story. They were too set on a quest that ended in reclining chairs, Sunday football, and hand-held electronic devices. Now Creator hangs out with a coyote at the bottom of a cliff. They watch the sun set on the tufts of prairie grass that still remain. Tucked on a ledge. Too steep for cows to reach.
People watch birds. We stare into aquariums. We bring our spotting scopes to Yellowstone with the hope of seeing wolves. Then—at night—we move. Men and women. On all fours. Not on hands and knees. We run on hands and feet. With haunches capable of sending a body back in time. Past traffic. Behind neighborhoods. Prior to cities and before this inflammable life.
Near the beginning, in the Northwest, Bear asked Whale to carry him across the water. She agreed. He climbed onto her back. They swam through the breaking surf together. She thought about him when the snow fell. They wed in the spring. Their children became a chain of islands with broad beaches and rocky shoulders. Now, when the weather forces fishermen to take refuge on an island, they leave salmon on shore for bears. They sing songs with lyrics well-known to sea mammals.
Beasts, and the Children
In the park, on Saturday, Percy sits on a bench and waits for his dog, Alice, to spend the requisite amount of time exercising. Two squirrels chase each other around the base of a tree to his right. A flock of geese honks over him in the shape of an arrow, headed south. Percy’s neck does not move underneath his hat. He’s like the hub of a wheel on a bicycle, centered amidst the churning of the spokes. Glass-eyed, he stares ahead.
On the walk home, he sees a woman reading to a group of kids. The sight makes him think about the books he read as a child. There were talking animals. Meadows. Creatures and forests as real as anything in his bedroom.
Chad Hanson serves as Chairman of the Department of Sociology & Social Work at Casper College. He is the author of Swimming with Trout (University of New Mexico Press, 2007), Trout Streams of the Heart (Truman State University Press, 2013) and Patches of Light: Prose Poems (Red Dragonfly Press, 2014). His recent awards include the Meadowhawk Prize and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council. For more information, visit: www.chadhanson.org.