Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Eagle Feather

I love hearing about cultures
that tend the graves of their beloved dead,
gathering there to feast and picnic
on the day of remembering,
telling stories with tears and laughter,
leaving small stones and gifts on the graves,
drinks of water, messages that say:
you are dearly loved and remembered.

In our culture, we are uptight about death,
pretend it doesn't exist,
until it arrives at our door.
We stand, stoic,  at funerals, 
holding back tears
to be shed privately, later.

At First Nations funerals,
there is open mourning,
keening, wailing.
And there is honouring:
the young brave in his casket, 
an eagle feather in his hair,
and all the young men of his tribe
squatting, knees bent, 
walking this way up the aisle, 
circling his casket,
and back down. 
The pain must have been immense,
but was ignored,
in the honouring of their brother.

I like their ways best.

       ~~~   ~~~   ~~~

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: the Day of the Dead


  1. This is a circling in of grief and community I have rarely seen and never heard. Your poem--with its motif of pain from beginning to end--resounds in me. And I gather the young men stand in for those of us with weaker knees, equal grief and more than empathy.

  2. This is quite interesting, and leveling; for pain and loss, are part of our humanity

    Thanks for dropping in to read mine Sherry

    much love...

  3. This must be an intensely emotional ceremony to attend. But there is beauty in mourning and this is beautiful, as is your poem. You always have these interesting bits of information Sherry. Thank you.

  4. My compliments to you. You expreseed with words the feelings of a moment

  5. This was a great look into another culture. Loved this.

  6. How touching and respectful this ceremony is Sherry. Apart from tears European peoples tend to be rather quiet and unemotive don't they? Although hopefully that tradition will chang slowly

  7. The rituals and traditions to remember and honour the dead are so different everywhere. Coming from a culture that cremates rather than buries their dead, you have no place to go visit, you just let the memories find you instead.

  8. Yes, I guess each culture has its own way of honoring the dead. Very thoughtful piece, Sherry.

  9. Oh Sherry, this is beautifully emotive ❤️ I am so overwhelmed with emotion after reading this ❤️

  10. the last portion is so visual..."there is open mourning,
    keening, wailing.
    And there is honouring:" open/ wonderfully contrasted, expressions differ but grief's the same....

  11. Thank you for this picture of grief. We in the West are often too stoic for our own good.

  12. Beautiful words about the difference in culture. I agree with you and think the way some cultures connect and grief is fully expressed. Very thoughtful

  13. We can learn much from First Nation people!

  14. Wonderful poem, Sherry. The more Western cultures have become "civilised", the more they risk losing contact with the spiritual world, the rich store of traditions and community that bind people together during emotionally challenging times. First Nation people still maintain that spiritual bridge with eternity and honouring the dead in the way that you describe allows them to channel their raw emotions into constructive paths that let them cope better not only with the death of a loved one, but also the concept of death itself.


I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!