sacchrain_kiss (sacchrain_kiss) wrote in plaza_rejects,

Song of Wolves

They called her Song of Wolves, because the wolves howled with her mother through her birthing, and howled afterward with the new baby. For most of the year, she was a young maiden the same as all the other young maidens in her villaga. In the spring she wove flowers into her hair and sang songs with them, in the summer she planted and tended fields of wild rice and corn, in the fall she harvested and gathered nuts and berries. It was wintertime when she became strange, when the sun shone bright on the snow she worked with her mother and grandmother, sewing clothes for the rest of the year. When the sky was grey she sang to the children in her strange, spirit-like voice that rose and fell like the song of the wolves. When the snow fell she clothed herself in thick furs and went into the forest, armed only with a knife at her ankle. At night when the rest of the village slept, a few sleepless souls could hear her voice mingling with that of the wolves as they taught her their songs. When the morning came, she would be found on her pallet, often in such a deep sleep that she could not be wakened until the sun was high in the sky.

They called her Song of Wolves, though she was no longer a maiden, but a woman with a family. Her husband was well respected in the village, for he made beautiful carvings of wood and bone and horn, and he was inventive and thought of a water wheel turned by young boys that would bring water to the fields through a trough. So her waginogan was more luxurious than many others in the village and she never lacked for skins to sew into clothing for her family. Now there were white men who came to the village who spoke like bears but acted like snakes. Within the village there was dissent, some wanted to ban the white men, killing them if they showed themselves in Ojibwe land, others wanted peace with them for they were powerful and had many wondrous things to trade. In the winter, she spoke to the wolves, but their numbers were growing less and their songs were marred with an undercurrent of disharmony that echoed that of the tribe.

They called her Song of Wolves, but the wolves no longer came and sang with her and she was too old to go look for them. The white men had driven them away, as they had driven away everything that opposed them. She had seen what the white men did when they conquered and she grieved for the land, her face lined heavily with sadness that had nothing to do with the death of her husband. The white men had moved the Ojibwe to a Reservation in the dry plains. She wondered why the earth did not fly up to meet the sky without the trees to hold it in place. She wondered how people could live here where the sun turned everything brown in the summertime, where water was scarce and where the blizzard winds swept across the plains in the winter with nothing to stop them. She wondered why the white men had made her come to this place when her people had always treated them kindly; she wondered why they had taken her land and her livelihood. She sewed beaded patterns into a dress and looked out across the bare land, wondering if she would ever see her wolves again.

They called her Song of Wolves, and she limped slowly away from the village in the reservation until she came to a small spring with trees around it. She seated herself beneath one of these trees and began to sing as the wolves had taught her. She sang until the sun had slipped beneath the horizon in the west and was beginning to rise again in the east. There was mist here beneath the trees and as her song finally wound to its close, a familiar grey form manifested itself from out of the mist. It trotted up to her, alert and friendly, nuzzling its greeting. She sighed a final note and her song stopped forever.

They called her Song of Wolves, and they found her beneath the trees at the spring. Poor old woman, they said to themselves, for they were young and did not remember the wolves or living anywhere but the reservation, Poor old woman, she came out here to die, all alone, poor old woman. But as they moved closer to retrieve the body, they saw that she was not alone, there was a wolf draped in her lap, as dead as she was. Look at that, they said, Maybe her stories were true after all. They bent to pick her up, and one of them picked up the wolf, tossing it over his shoulder like a sack of flour, They should be buried together, he said, She would have liked that. In the distance, they thought they heard the sound of wolves, but maybe it was just the wind, blowing across the empty plains.
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