Antoinette
James
WORDWRIGHT
…At last summer's gathering, Kimimela and I had passed words and looked upon each other; we looked upon each other as I walked by to fetch water from the river. We looked upon each other when she was about woman's work and I practiced with my hunting bow and arrows on the edge of the great grasslands.
Fellow braves had nudged me with their elbows as we considered each other in a second's glance; and she, Kimimela had giggled with other squaw as they then kept their eyes averted - until we went by. We danced many of the dances, and secretly in my heart I danced for her, and I felt sure she secretly in her heart she danced for me.
Then all-too-soon, the day's resplendent radiance gave way earlier and earlier to the night's soft glow; and the repeated cuts on the moon stick confirmed to us all that it was time for the bands to embark on the autumn hunt and then soon after, separate. Kimimela and I looked upon each other's face for one last time. I captured the form of her face with my eyes and stored its loveliness in my memory, to weather me through the cold harsh winter.
"You have grown straight and stand tall on the earth." She barely whispered.
I had thought the fading leaves on the restless elms were teasing me. I had looked at them, but they ignored me. It was then I knew, on our next gathering, she would share her courting blanket - I stood tall…

As Ate and I bathed under the bright blue I unexpectedly felt scared; I noticed Ate's countenance drop as he looked over my head to the far rise. His hand fell despondently off my shoulder, making a swishing sound as it caught my deerskin shirt. I followed his look and saw the anguished faces of the hunting scouts returning to camp - cold.

They tried not to show their distress, but Ate and I could see their clenched jaws shaking and hear their chattering teeth as they shook their heads.
The scouts had been away for many sleeps, looking for the return of the bison.
"Tatanka have not returned."
Moon-of-Making-Fat was waning, leaving us waiting on Wakan Tanka, to send the tatanka herds.
Downcast staring to my left, my eyes were slowly drawn out of their temporary void as I noticed moccasin-made hollows in the white drift. Back they paced, back away from the camp, back up the small rise and over the hill out of sight, from where the scouts had carved them only moments before; and with their retreat they took a portion of hope, leaving behind tormented hunger, in not only my belly.
Ma wept.


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