Like an emergent moth
I’m flitting up a slope.
Here strips of colored cloth
affixed to every tree
are prayers, the windblown hope
of those who climb to see.

This is a laccolith
upthrust through sediment,
perduring like a myth
through man’s prehistory,
Pa Sapa ’s pediment.
Come climb Bear Butte with me.

Twelve hundred feet in dream
I climb when hope is gone,
when like Red Cloud I seem
ringed by my enemies,
when I have need at dawn
for prayer flags in the trees.

Note: Mato Paha means Bear Butte, and Pa Sapa, Black Hills, in the Sioux language.

Articles by Timothy Murphy

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