Wind Cave I: Inside Grandmother Earth’s Lungs

Tahana Whitecrow Poetry Award, 1995. Published in Circle of Reflections, 1995; Shaman’s Drum, 1996; Fireweed, 1996.

We enter from a door blasted[break]in her side, down metal stairs[break]past folds of fleshy flowstone,[break]stepping on lungs of a great giant–[break]Grandmother Earth–in Wind Cave,[break]at the Center of All That Is.

The first explorers had to crawl[break]down Her windpipe to get inside,[break]past Her whistle, past Her sigh,[break]wind so strong it blew their hats off,[break]blew their lamps out.

Now the throat’s blocked to keep[break]young children from falling[break]through its eighteen-inch membrane;[break]chords cut, the cave is songless,[break]speechless.

Like a virus[break]we swarm the lungs,[break]creep past the silence,[break]twist deeper through holes and folds,[break]past brown mud-breathing skin,[break]we penetrate[break]tiny air pockets,[break]smoke-blackened,[break]pick-axed,[break]narrowing[break]down,[break]down[break]till[break]no[break]air[break]sacs[break]left;[break]no-[break]thing.

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