I can hear him fumbling in the blackness,
Muttering under his breath.
He is collecting his paraphernalia
From the middle drawer
Of his bureau.
Every day
His gnarled fingers search
For the fan of eagle feathers
And the bone whistle
Made from a turkey’s thigh.
Then softly, the floorboards creaking,
He opens the outside door
To stand in the darkness,
To breathe the heavy night air.
He waits. . . .
The eastern sky glows with expectancy.
Then, when the night owl hoots,
The old man begins to sing,
“Ya na hah, ya na hah.”
He chants softly, almost imperceptibly.
And, as if waiting for his voice,
The sky abruptly brightens.
He points the bone whistle
Toward the east and blows
Its shrill sound
To part the clouds.
Now grandfather sings again.
“Ya na hah, ya na hah.”
His voice grows stronger and stronger.
It changes
From the quavering,
Almost frightened, voice of an old man,
Into a voice of power —
Into the voice of a virile man.
“Ya na hah! Ya na hah!
He takes the eagle feather fan
And waves it three times
From the ground to the sky
Until a suntip appears above the treeline.
His song then reverberates into the sky,
And the sun disk climbs
To sit on the edge of the world.
The turkey bone whistle screeches once more
And a crowd of waiting roosters answers it.
Grandfather then creeps back into the house
To replace his paraphernalia
In the middle drawer
Of his bureau.
He tiptoes quietly into my room
And taps gently on my shoulder.
“It’s sunrise,” he tells me.
And so it is.