Ishi, the last of his tribe, lived alone near Mt. Shasta for many years.
He spent his final years living at the anthropology museum at
the University of California, Berkeley.
Who still speaks my tongue I know not.
I tell myself of birds and fish, of berries I can eat.
I keep the smallest words for food.
I become an unmoving rock, a tree
When they come, making noises
Too loud for my ears.
I see in the flat places the smoke of their fires.
I stay on the mountain where it is too steep
I carried my mother for many days
when she could no longer walk.
I make my arrow points of sharpened stone.
I swim in the ice-melt streams.
My bones are very old now.
I walk in the strange storage place of the other ones.
I see my fatherís vest, feathers of the dancing time.
Sometimes, reflected through the glass cases
I see them all again . . .
Circling round, smiling, sing the words
Of the Grandfather songs.
Michael Cooney  New York, NY