Crimson Feather

by Vila SpiderHawk



Crimson Feather is a woman.  While I knew this night would come, I had hoped it wouldnít happen quite so soon.  The drums are calling.  I must hurry to unravel her braids so her hair can flow as freely as the river.  I do not want to do this fast.  I want to hold her close to me.  I want to feel her greedy sucking at my breast.  I want to hear her toddlerís giggling, watch her lurch from game to game.  I even long to hear her screeching after tumbling to a bruise, her arms thrust out, demanding that I comfort her.


I was the focus of her being in those happy sun splashed days and in those long star splattered nights when she slept curled up into me.  I was her source of nourishment.  I was her blanket and her toy.  I was the vessel into which she poured her childish hurts and dreams.  All her triumphs and resentments, all her hopes and disappointments were my treasures.  I still pull them out sometimes.  I cradle them in my palms, turn them over, feel their heft, and Iím delighted that their colors are still rich. 


My chatty daughter is so mute.  She bites her lip as if sheís lying, but she keeps her trepidation to herself.  The tribe and I have taught her well, and she has been a clever student.  But now itís time for her to learn the deeper secrets.  For the rest of her life at the dark of the moon, she will gather in the circle with the women of our nation to learn then teach the Woman Mysteries.  She will do well.  Iím sure of that.  She has a quick and agile mind.  And she will prosper.  I am certain of that too.     


Soon sheíll marry and sleep on another personís pallet and curl into another personís body.  I know heíll keep her safe and warm.  The warriors of our tribe do that.  Itís just a given that heíll do the best he can.  And if heís injured or ill, the other hunters will provide.  Whichever man my daughter chooses, she will always have enough.  I only hope her husband cherishes her dreams.


I wish the drumming would stop, that I could halt time for a while, that I could keep my little girl for one more turning of the moon or for a day or even for another flutter of an eye.  But her hair is soft and wavy from the braids Iíve just undone.  And, though sheís still in childish garb, she is prepared.  The drumming says so, however much my motherís heart may ache.  Itís time to take her and her sister to the wide part of the river, and there weíll say goodbye forever to the child Crimson Feather.  Once she wades across the flow, sheíll be my sister, not my daughter, and she will have the right to choose a womanís name.   I wish I had some words of wisdom.  But all I want to do is weep.  And so I smile and touch her cheek one final time.




Vila SpiderHawk and her husband share a log home of their design in the woods of Pennsylvania where they live with their six cats and enjoy the frequent visits of their many woodland friends.   SpiderHawk is the author of Hidden Passages: Tales to Honor the Crones, Forest Song: Finding Home, Forest Song: Little Mother, and Forest Song Cookbook.  Spiderhawk is a gourmet vegan cook and an avid gardener.