Navajo Medicine Woman

Navajo Medicine Woman

She draws the line of life

halfway around the hearth,

thanks the fire




The patient faces east, the sun, the door.

A fee is given.

The healer with feather fan

wafts smoke

upward from heel to head.

Each relative repeats the blessing.

The bitter peyote-root libation is passed.

The fireman bringing embers

heaps the hearth:

the central keyboard

of prophecy.

The medicine woman plays

the tonal variations

of the coals and sees:

the souring

the wound

the balm.

Kneading the peyote-balls as sacrosanct,

transformer, she kneels,

absorbs each person’s prayer into her opaque sybil eyes

and through the night’s heat,



and sunrise

she radiates voltaic ransom

for the patient’s will.