Bellevue, NE, Sarpy
And The Shaman
by ©Richard Budig 1996
Down among the trees and rolling hills,
With a carillon calling from the shadows,
Slept a great university with buildings
Of stone and grace and charm,
Where those who hungered for more
Burned their lamps and studied the lore.
But one among them, a bright young fellow
With a doctors degree in biology,
Pondered his knowledge and wondered
If perchance, just perchance, there wasn't more
To be learned about what makes us tick,
About what makes us all well and sick.
He searched the far and misty corners
Until he found a village in a rain forest,
Where, it was said, a wily old shaman
Healed with herbs and walked with the dead,
And dealt with creatures of every kind,
Including those who live in the mind.
The doctor found the shaman
And told him he'd like to apprentice,
As it were, in the ways of the forest,
And in the ways of the shaman,
And in those things that cross the line,
Invisible things that live in space and time.
In a kindly way, the shaman told the doctor
His desire, while admirable, was impossible,
For it takes a certain faith to step into the dark
Of the forest, and harder still, the dark of the mind,
To embrace those things with yellow eyes,
Whose tooth and fur and claw are just a guise.
The doctor pleaded, and the shaman,
Being a reasonable man, after all, decided
To give him a chance, to take him
Into the forest where certain things grow,
Where the root of this flower helps a man's heart,
And the bark of that tree makes a poison dart.
So the doctor and the shaman daily
Wound their way into the forest's gloom
And worked together beneath sky and leaf,
Talking quietly of the other's chemistry,
Of mind and matter, of hopes and dreams,
Of gauzy things that ride on moon beams
Of dreams, the shaman schooled one day,
Dreams are important too. For often
They provide a bridge between us all,
And, I believe, the bridge from me to you.
Recall, if you can, the visions of the night
That visit your journey from dark to light.
And every day or so thereafter
The shaman asked the doctor how he slept,
And what may have passed the night before.
Oh, nothing, nothing at all, replied the doctor
I slept quite soundly, thanks all the same.
Could it be your dreams are just a game?
It may be so. Perhaps the dreams
You seek are not the ones
I hoped you'd find as you search for truth
Among these cluttered vines.
But this you must know: Without this vision
That which you seek cannot be given.
A darkness came upon the doctor's face,
And for several days, he worked alone
Until one morning his face was darker still,
And he found it difficult to speak.
Shaman, he whispered, I dreamed last night,
Of something black that glowed with a yellow light.
The shaman forced himself not to smile,
And took a breath to compose himself
Before he spoke. Let me tell you your dream,
About the thing that climbed upon your bed,
Of a death-black cat with eyes so yellow and so bright
About the creature who sat upon your chest last night.
You awoke to a sound, the shaman continued,
The sound of a rumbling deep in his throat
As the panther stood watching you sleep.
Then he turned and sniffed the things
You keep in the case at the foot of your bed,
Books that hold what should be in your head.
Then, like an eagle, he flew to your bed
On wings spitting fire into the night,
And as leaves fall in the jungle, he landed softly
Upon your chest and spoke aloud your name.
His breath was hot as it washed over your face
But the barb of his whiskers were soft as lace.
Suddenly his weight became unbearable,
And his eyes glowed yellow and yellower still
And deep blue smoke arose from his coat.
Then he grew until he filled your tent,
Until all the air was gone and you lay gasping,
Until your throat was parched and rasping.
At length, he flew from your bed
And soared to the stars on velvet wings.
The shaman paused and took another breath,
And asked if this was how it happened.
Yes, the doctor replied, but how can it be
That you know what this cat did to me?
Again the shaman swallowed a smile,
And assured the doctor that his vision's quest
Had come to him through the visit of the cat.
But the doctor asked again, How could this be?
In mimicking voice, the shaman said, How could it be?
Why doctor, he purred, don't you know? That cat was me!
[This message has been edited by broker6 (edited 11-18-1999).]