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by Neil Aitken
Neil's site at
The shaman who does not know
he is a shaman, sometimes smells
the sharp scent of burning pine
sometimes feels a deep red ache
in his hands, the weight of cold stone.
He wakes beneath the thin veil of trees,
sees shapes in the mirror. In the morning sky,
the clouds turn to visions of war and death.
A small wind rises when he speaks his wife's name,
scatters itself in bright flowers in the forest.
He hears distant voices driving through empty fields.
Sometimes a lone crow follows his path
through the clouds. Sometimes the hills open
and unravel before his eyes. In the fall, he can sense
the slow death of the leaves, the stirring of wolves.
The bones of frail birds, small and pale,
seem familiar at night. Sometimes glancing
in the mirror, he sees the shadows of dark caves,
feels that somebody else is sleeping there,
deep in the back of his mind, someone is asking
When he drinks his tea, he counts the leaves
in their faint patterns, watches his children sleeping,
their hands opening into new blossoms of fate.
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