For the Lady of Willow Manor, on the Occasion of her Birthday
This week I introduced my class to Tecumseh (read more here and here), the great Shawnee war chief, political leader, and statesman of his people. Just over one hundred ninety-eight years ago, Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames in Canada, but, having lived here in his old homeland for a couple of years, I am sure his spirit lingers. I left campus late Tuesday afternoon, with cloud-swept skies overhead, and saw this deer, all by her lonesome:
She is standing on the railroad track, in much the same way as Tecumseh's family found themselves standing in the way of westward expansion into the Ohio Country and beyond. And so it was that I had Tecumseh and his people on my mind as I drove home, past this:
I drive past Tecumseh's birthplace every day. There is some confusion about this, as the Shawnee town in which he was born was called Chillicothe. Some people, therefore, have assumed that he was born near present-day Chillicothe on the Scioto (home to the outdoor drama), but actually he was born in "Old" Chillicothe, now called Old Town, north of Xenia. On more than one occasion, just south of Old Town, I have seen this hawk:
It's a red-tail, and because I have seen it so many times near the birthplace marker, I have taken to calling it Tecumseh. The name itself is the Shawnee description of a meteor or "shooting star." The hawk usually flies off when I slow down, but one day it just sat there, as if keeping vigil, so I was able to stop and take several pictures, including the one above and this one:
The same day I talked about Tecumseh and saw the deer on the track, I saw Tecumseh, the hawk, perched on "his" favorite wire. He pulled his usual trick of flying off as soon as I slowed down, but I felt so blessed to see him and I felt the goosebumps pop. This is a sacred spot...I feel it in my bones as I drive past. The story of Tecumseh is a tragedy...it could have been written by a Russian...but it continues to inspire. About this time last year, I wrote a sonnet in response to one of Tess's Magpie prompts. I repost it now, my humble gift to a person who celebrates her Native American DNA and who has become a dear friend. She has inspired me, perhaps more than she realizes, with her talent, her passion, her wit, and her spirit. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. Here's to you, Tess!
Artist's depiction of Tecumseh
The Open Door
The day grew cold; the moon eclipsed the sun.
I took the Shawnee warrior's path toward home