on the dakota night sky


Driving down highway 83 south in the inky black
midnight
intent on the road
a flashpoint of light out the driver’s side window
catches my eye.
With a gasp I slow the truck
mesmerized
until a sudden bump reminds me of the shoulder
and I pull to a stop
a turn of the key

then

darkness descends. Utter silence surrounds me in the cold night
Sitting in the truck bed alone wrapped in a wool blanket
surrounded by the benevolent arms of creation
The rustle of grasses in the wind are the orchestra
of this Dakota evening
the swishing of their brushing against one another
a brotherhood of prairie flower, sweetgrass and thistle
dancing a swaying dance filling the late summer night.

But my eyes are entranced and the swishing of the grasses fades

for the sky—the sky—wide, horizonless
beckons.
This night makes it easy to believe the legends
We came from the stars, it is said

Then there, to the north
The Big Dipper, named the Seven Council Fires.

Ancient voices whisper on the wind:

A Lakota woman went to marry a star
and then
fell to her death climbing down braided turnip stems
as she tried to return to her village through a hole
in the constellations
as she fell
her child was born
and became the Fallen Star.
And there, Orion’s belt
the backbone of a bison
The Pleiades, the bison’s head
the stars surrounding, low on the horizon
a racetrack around which the animals raced
the prize to the winner
a decision
whether humans got to stay on earth, or
be swept away by the Thunder Beings.
The lowly magpie won the race
and decided humans should stay

and so on earth, this human woman
wonders at the magnificence of the stars
humbled by the largeness of beauty
and my smallness in it
Gratefulness fills me as I make my prayers, and watch
as they ascend to the heavens above
a point of light flying swiftly to join the constellations

an answer

There is no darkness so great that light cannot
pierce it, you see
then

instantly

difficulty falls away
in the miracle of this silent night
the stars are the choir in this
great cathedral Earth
I heard the orchestra of God singing of glories unimaginable
miracles yet to come
of love eternally descending from heaven to earth weaving all humanity and the land, sea
animals and stars together
and back around again endlessly ascending a circle neverceasing
singing the music of the spheres

and I understand in my soul, the phrase mitakuye oyas’in
we are all related

–diane o’leary, 2013

English: Pleiades Star Cluster
English: Pleiades Star Cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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