My teacher Shenandoah

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Ilya Shambat

May 19, 2022, 7:52:00 PMMay 19
Speak to me, Shenandoah!
You're old, and I am young.
In valley down below
And all your hills among,

Dinosaurs have once roamed,
With open, hungry eyes;
Mammoths made you their home
Amid the sheets of ice -

Taller than Mount St. Helen
You once stood on the earth;
Reaching and touching heaven -
Through all the death and birth

You towered, proud and mighty,
Seeing and knowing all,
Parted and yet united -
Each mountain and the whole -

Seeing trees grow and wither,
Animals live and die,
Thunder, tornado, blizzard -
Elements you defy,

But stand, evincing shadow
In the sun's morning rays
Over the forests, meadows,
And in the time and space.

You stood here when the red man
Hunted and roamed the lands,
When the wise, painted shaman
At bonfire, in a trance,

Healed ailments and diseases,
Arrows and spears dislodged
And contacted deceased ones
And spirits in sweat lodge,

And when the white man landed
And drove the red man hence,
You stood in pain and sadness
But let the life advance.

The ages have eroded you -
The water and the wind;
The workers have exploded you
Railways and roads to build -

You are worn out, tired,
Shadow of what you were -
In forests you're attired
Now, as you were before

In ice caps. Appalachia!
You've seen and known it all -
The vagaries of nature,
Tsunamis in man's soul -

Both ignorance and wisdom,
Both viciousness and bliss,
The muteness of deceased ones,
The symphony that lives

In people and in nature
In oceans and the skies:
In beauty and in danger
Life grows and multiplies -

For millions of years
You stood and saw and heard
And caught life unawares
Like, in a trap, a bird

And wrung from its beaked mouth
The universal song:
You are the life's storehouse!
The planet's skeleton!

All lived, died, decomposed
And left its dust in you -
There resting in repose
Under the sky of blue -

And as you see and know
The world, both old and new,
My teacher - Shenandoah -
Give me your wisdom too!

Ilya Shambat
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