Andrews Forest, Oregon

In Memory of Vi Hilbert, Lutshootseed Elder



No need to be afraid of death              D

Seattle said, there is no loss                 A

it’s no more than a change of worlds Em

like the fallen fir that returns to moss. G


And like that tree, we too have stood

lifting up between earth and sky

and as we rise, we know that we

must too descend, coming falling time.


Lah-doke, chah-doke chow     D

Lah-doke, chah-doke chow     A

Lah-doke, chah-doke chow     G

Where are you going?              G D


And then our trunks will feed the soil

ten thousand lives and more will thrive

as we transcend this shape we’ve held

to help this world remain alive


They say that Buddha long ago

while walking through the forest came

to a starving tiger and her young

lay down, gave his body to them


And yet, and yet I must admit

I am not ready for my breath

to leave the music of my heart

that’s echoed by my fragile steps.


Still, without fear, let me give thanks

for one more rising of the sun

and let me walk through one more day

as if my life had just begun.


Joseph Bruchac PDFs:

Selected Poems and Writing

Joseph Bruchac has been creating poetry, short stories, novels, anthologies and music for over 30 years.  His work is a reflection of his Abenaki Indian heritage and Native American traditions. He is the author of more than 120 books for children and adults. The best selling Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children and others of his “Keepers” series, with its remarkable integration of science and folklore, continue to receive critical acclaim and to be used in classrooms throughout the country.