Tribal College Press has launched Meditation on Ceremonies of Beginnings! The book went up on their site, https://tribalcollegejournal.org/buy-meditation-on-ceremonies-of-beginnings, yesterday. I have emphasizing the Tribal College Press site for purchases because any purchase here goes to help the tribal college movement out through work that the Tribal College Journal does with all of the colleges.
To me, at least, this is the most important book I have ever written, as accidental as it is in some senses. It represents decades of work for all the tribal colleges and specifically for the colleges that I worked directly for over much of my life. Imbedded in the book also are all the sacrifices Ethel and my children, Sonja, Mary, and Kevin, made during the years when I was working so hard to make so many things happen of American Indian communities and students in individual communities and nationwide. I also want to celebrate Ethel’s magnificent pastel the press used for the cover.
I received my first copy of the finished book at the house yesterday, and I was surprised at how much emotion it generated in me. The tribal colleges and universities and international indigenous controlled institutions of higher learning are so important! All of us need to reach out, if we are not American Indian people, to the original people of this land and celebrate them and feel the power of what they and their communities have to offer the world. I hope that in the pages of this book of poetry both Indians and non-Indians can find the spirit of the tribal colleges and universities and then become inspired to support them in some concrete way. They are still among the poorest funded colleges and universities in this country even though they are doing God’s work in some of the poorest places in the United States.
Doors at Chaco Canyon photograph by Kevin Davis (2/16/1982 – 7/21/2010)
“The Framing” a poem by Richard Brenneman
This is the anniversary of our son’s death in Poughkeepsie, New York from cancer ten years ago. This is always a sad day for Ethel, I, and our daughters, Sonja Bingen and Mary Wood, every year. This blog was started in honor of Kevin, who was a wonderful web designer, photographer, artist, and poet. This year we are publishing one of Kevin’s most iconic photographs, a doorway found at the Chaco Canyon ruins in New Mexico, and Richard Brenneman’s wonderful poem about the photograph, remembering someone who was deeply, deeply loved.
by Richard Brenneman
Ekaphrastic poem celebrating the Kevin Davis photograph, “Doors at Chaco Canyon”
Picture this --
seen through the lens of a camera;
eye sighting perfectly this line of sight,
image remaining after.
The photographer has entered into
this, his picture.
A framing frames the ancient remains,
frame within frame like stone ghosts
from the living to the not living.
During the day, the doors,
like sideways viewed Chinese boxes, point the way
to the sky, or a blank wall
where the lords of death
(or alternatively, the lords of life)
are lodged beyond, whether
in kiva, hogan, teepee,
pyramid -- the mountain of gods.
At night invisible,
you can barely see the framed gates.
Above, the moonlight,
a few stars shine bright:
Polaris, Sirius, Aldebaran.
The gods of old-time
have come for you --
you who framed this image.
Time into framing,
gate, window, doorway --
starlight seeps out
light from unseen life
in sunrise or twilight,
you who sighted this
in your view finder.
If we look at this image askew,
we can almost see you as shadow,
the dust motes, the whirling dervishes
slipping through the frame of time,
the ancient gateways
to join the lords of life, of death
to ascend timeless, bodiless
to the stars,
to become framed
as infinite starshine.