Thomas Doty – Storyteller


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Crater Lake

at 8000 feet
lightning strikes close
burns my stomach electric

bolts scorch the lake
crackling and sizzling
flaring the night

2000 feet down
the lake is liquid fire
caldera brimmed with storm
spattering and bubbling
retelling its own myth

early morning stillness
quiet as creation

the world is smooth water
and a breeze cuts a path
for the Maker's canoe

* * * * *

we wonder
where the myths come from

a Klamath woman explains

"the black ash fell
and killed the deer
choked the water
smothered our homes

"we knew the mountain
fell in on itself
thousands of years
before the geologists

"we were there
we watched it happen

"then we survived
and made the myths

"creation is primal
like loving
like dying
like birthing

"to keep it alive
we made the stories
and the stories
keep us wondering"

* * * * *

Crater Lake winters are long

from November to June
snowdrifts are deep
blown halfway up
the tallest pines
by winds so fierce
you'd think the mountain
was blowing again

natives come here for power

five winter nights
you get what you came for --
songs from the ice-blue lake
and dialogue with the biting wind

snowmelt in May
starts with a trickle
swelling by June

pine pollen streaks
the blue of the lake
and wildflowers bloom
yellow and red

then the ground dries up
like there wasn't a spring
after the long winter

* * * * *

this deep lake
is a good place to love
under stars that flame
like winter fires

breath taut in the thin air
my fingers trace
her lake-smooth skin

loving a native woman
is loving the landscape

ripples of skin moving
mist of her hair across my face
wet kisses of the night

pale morning
stars are coals

breathing long breaths of sleep
we dream in the dew of our sweat
knowing love will go deeper
deep as this lake

* * * * *

there are people who remember

in 1984
a Klamath woman said

"we remember the choking ash
we seldom come here
except to seek visions
or to cool off on a hot day"

in 1985
a man with a white cane
stood on the rim of the lake
and said to his wife

"I see nothing
yet everything is here
yes! -- a beautiful silence"

then in 1986
an old man danced on the rim
under the mythic moon
under Coyote's star
shifting the night shadows

Crater Lake is primal
there are people who remember