He Has More Than One Ear
He can hear many voices at once.
If you get past the crowd
and the fizz
like steam on a sound stage of a rock concert
you can see he is covered with ears.
He who planted the ear, shall he not hear?
In a Sweat Lodge ceremony, a man was praying in Lakota. I don't understand his language and he prayed a long time and my mind wandered to my own concerns. The Sweat Lodge is a hot, dark church where we come together to pray for others. Sometimes ourselves. And I wondered if my separate thoughts got in the way of the Lakota man and the Great Spirit, and I thought, no, the Great Spirit has more than one ear.
If he's like the Native culture, he prefers many narrators, many possibilities of meaning as he listens to his people struggle for reconnection, most of us without a manual.
To put my finger on something elusive, I've been thinking about Native American Literature and culture and what it has to offer because I'm nearing the end of another semester and I think, how can students understand the diverse culture? Full of strength and weakness. Meaning and no meaning. A people gone far away from themselves. A people zoned on themselves.
In the end, it's the moving variables which move again the moment you focus. It's transformation which is the constant.
That's what you get out of NA Lit and culture
after the life principles of harmony, reciprocity, balance, respect
after the presence of ancestors and the spirit world
after the interdependency of the group
after seeing the earth as a living being
after story and language as creator and maintainer
after a culture moving according to natural patterns instead of linear organization
after another way of seeing
another way of being
in the end
what NA Lit and culture offer you is yourself
because in the end you have to define meaning
and it's what you are that you see
Gerald Vizenor calls it the tabernacle of mirrors in his book, Dead Voices
not God's tabernacle in the wilderness with its ark of the covenant
but your own humanity
naked, uncomfortable, burdened, complex, unadaptable,
contradictory, angry, humerous, arrogant, self centered,
NA Lit and culture offer you the seventh direction
after North, East, South, West, Earth, Sky
which is the core of yourself
you carry with you wherever you go.
© 1995 Diane Glancy
From Studies in American Indian Literature, 1995, 7, 2, p1.
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