Holy Stick

Around the fire

Sacred mountain sage

Wafting up and into

The gathered pilgrims

Seeking a new

Connection to deeper truth –

How does one breathe it in

Without first letting go?


Coyote Skywater, the elder,


As Pueblo tradition holds,

Hands me the Talking Stick.

No one but the holder

Is allowed to speak.

She cautions all to listen, and to me –

“Even your ancestors are listening, White Owl,

So speak to them first.


Overwhelmed by silence and this sacred listening,

Searching my mind for perfect words,

My heart takes over.

Unable to speak

This Holy Stick

Sticking my tongue to my pallet

Like to a frozen flagpole,

A moan issues without beckoning

As I grasp the stick and weep.


I wonder,

Is it true that I have never

Been given this honor –

To be truly heard?

Surely, having been heard like this

Has taught me to listen.

© 2015 Bessie Adams Senette


Inspired by Meinrad Craighead”s “The Litany of the Great River”

Original collage by Bessie Senette

Published by

Bessie Senette

Bessie Senette is the author of Cutting the Clouds: a Bayou Mystic’s Poems, Musings, and Imaginings – an autobiographical collection of poems and essays about the life and culture of her bayou upbringing and the spirituality that informs her traditional healing gifts. Her current work-in-progress is Louisiana Pines: Homeland Poems and Vignettes; a chapbook that poetically explores her beloved home state.

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