by Larry Brody
NOTE FROM LB:
The Navajo Dog is back today, and while I don’t think anyone could be as happy about that as I am, she definitely is worth keeping company with. Oh, and yes, this is a true story, every word. To let it be otherwise would betray everything she has lived for.
The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk
The Navajo dog walks her talk, has been for at least
A thousand years. Lost items are a specialty. She
Has found a hidden concho belt, the skull of a vanished
Cat, and several renewed friends. Money she isn’t
That good at, but opportunities abound at her call.
The problem is, she drives me crazy, demanding a
Quid pro quo. “What have you done for me?” she
Will say. “You trade with the medicine men. What
Will you give your medicine dog?”
For awhile, rides in the truck were enough, her
Nomadic origins satisfied by the bumping of
The bed. Locking up the Navajo dog was impossible
Anyway. I would close the garage door on her,
Turn around, and there she would be, laughing.
Food as a thank you is hopeless. Anything she wants
She can take for herself. Once, I buried a sack of
Dog food beneath half a ton of oil drums, just as a
Test. The Navajo dog didn’t flinch, just waited until
I turned away. Then—wham!—a rumble, a crash, and
A dog munching contentedly, while the drums shivered
One of the skills the Navajo dog has taught me
Is the making of spirit staffs. It began when I
Wanted a stick to guide me over some rough
Paths. She told me where to find a good strong one,
Then guided me to some turkey feathers, and corn.
I stained the kernels with vegetable dye,
Strung them as beads, and attached them to
Both the feathers and the wood. Still, the
Navajo dog felt it wasn’t
Enough, took me out again. This time, we found
The skeleton of a cow, and the dog went directly to the
Spine. “Pick a backbone, any backbone,” she said
In stage patter. “You need a reminder to be brave.”
“I am brave,” I said.
“Sometimes,” she said, “you forget.
I attached the vertebra to the staff, using the
Corn beads. Still, the Navajo dog felt it wasn’t
Enough, took me out once more. This time, we
Made a fire, and kept the ashes, and at her
Instruction I used them to paint a black spiral
The length of the wood. “Black is a sacred
Color,” she said. “Where I come from,” I told her,
“Black means death.”
“Where I come from,” she told me, “everything
And life as well.
With the black, and the corn,” she said,
“And the feathers, and the bone,
Your new staff will carry you
Straight to heaven, or maybe hell.”
I have walked many miles with my spirit staff,
And climbed the steepest slopes. I have fallen,
And gotten up,
And fallen again,
But never has the staff failed. It carries turquoise
Now, set into the wood. “So you can fly freely
Where you need to,” said the Navajo dog,
And I’ve flown fast and free. Now, though, she
Wants a staff of her own, with no instructions,
No hints, no clues of what it should be. I figure
To pull out all the stops, and give her what she
After all, in a realm
Where all things mean death
I’ll never be able to find what she needs.
Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.