The Navajo cuts conifer branches,
lays them on the ground, watches
ants nibble ends of juniper berries
eating their bluish-white insides.
The berries he leaves in the sun.
When they are hollow and dry
he punches a hole in the other end,
strings them onto a cord.
He knows the fusion of earth, trees,
animal and human brings harmony,
keeps ghosts and nightmares away.
He’ll give a string to the new teacher,
the one with troubled eyes. The others
he’ll sell at the market stall on Friday.
Mary Franklin has had poems published in Iota, The Open Mouse, Ink Sweat and Tears, London Grip, Message in a Bottle and various anthologies, including nothing left to burn by Ragged Raven Press. Her tanka have appeared in poetry journals in Australia, Canada, UK and USA. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.