Regarding the sighting of buffalo at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

When the Animals Come

When the ani­mals come, pay attention.
Even if it is only a bush wren danc­ing among the branches,
stop for a moment and praise this lit­tle being.
She knows a deep­er lan­guage than you may ever share.

It does­n’t have to be some grandiose, inflat­ed miracle –
the white stag high up against the sky or the house lion
late­ly escaped from the cir­cus to be a sto­ry for your friends.
Just be qui­et when it hap­pens and watch gratefully
the skunk’s skill­ful dis­ap­pear­ance beneath the blackberries.
See how the bob­cat smiles at you behind her fern,
inter­rupt­ing a sad­ness you can­not define.
Go out into the dusk to lis­ten for the invis­i­ble lines
of the poem that is the cave bat’s hunger, swooping.
You should know by now that stand­ing armies
can be cut in two by a herd of elk
that some­how know a way across the cliff. 

When the ani­mals come, they are a mes­sage. Don’t ignore it.
Their eyes and ears know more, unlike us, of what is than isn’t.
They feel what the earth tells them, moment to moment,
and we should lis­ten lest the hot dust that comes from our mouths
destroys it all.

When the ani­mals come, espe­cial­ly the buf­fa­lo, hun­dreds strong,
and the eagles who invite a touch of their sacred feathers,
stop and ques­tion every­thing you thought you knew,
thought was good, thought was progress. In the face of such power,
put down your weapons and heal your fear of all the others,
wait until you tru­ly know what is the right thing for you to do
and once more can live humbly from your heart –
for tru­ly your own heart is first a creature,
the first ani­mal of all that you were meant to know.

– Dan Oestreich


(this pho­to is of unknown provenance)

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  • Amen. … even if they are com­ing to say farewell, love them while you can. And learn from them and do not for­get the swim­ming ones and the creepy crawlies.

  • Jan~

    Yes, even the creepy crawlies, and even if they come to say farewell — sure­ly there is heart­break there, too.

    Thanks for stop­ping by and tak­ing a moment to comment!


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