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One man made a ladder of the stacked-up yellow bones to climb the dead toward his own salvation. He wanted light and fire, wanted to reach and be close to his god. But his god was the one who opened his shirt and revealed the scar of mortal climbing. It is the scar that fives in the house with me. It goes to work with me. It is the people I have loved who fell into the straight, unhealed line of history. It is a brother who heard the bellowing cry of sacred hills when nothing was there but stories and rocks. It was what ghost dancers heard in their dream of bringing buffalo down from the sky as if song and prayer were paths life would follow back to land. And the old women, they say, would walk that land, pick through bones for hide, marrow, anything that could be used or eaten. Once they heard a terrible moan and stood back, and one was not dead or it had come back from there, walked out of the dark mountains of rotted flesh and bony fur, like a prophet coming out from the hills with a vision too unholy to tell. It must have traveled the endless journey of fear, returned from the far reaches where men believed the world was flat and they would fall over its sharp edge into pitiless fire, and they must have thought how life came together was a casual matter, war a righteous sin, and betrayal wasn't a round, naked thing that would come back to them one day.
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Author:Hogan, Linda
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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