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GENDENWITHA
by Patrick T. Reardon

Sosondowah was a silly man.
Yes, he was a stalwart hunter. Yes, he had been honored by Dawn to guard the heavens.
But, seeing me come out of the water of the River, he grew starry-eyed
and stupid with lust.

He should have stayed at heaven’s door.

He should not have turned himself into the heart of a bluebird to visit me.
I welcomed the bluebird to my clearing.

He should not have turned himself into the heart of a blackbird to visit me.
I welcomed the blackbird to my blanket.

He should not have turned himself into the heart of a giant nighthawk.
I trembled when the hawk grabbed me in his talons and took me up to the sky,
up to the planets,
up to his bed.

Dawn saw this and grew angry.
She struck me with a pure ray of the Sun.
And, of a sudden, I was the Morning Star,
lodged on the forehead of Sosondowah.

He longs for me but cannot see me, ever again.
Silly man.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Gendenwitha and Sosondowah are figures of Iroquois mythology. She was a human being. He was the sort of human-like god who would have been comfortable on Mount Olympus. Like many stories of mythology across the cultures, Gendenwitha is the innocent one here and ends up paying the price for somebody else’s weakness.

IMAGE: “Surfacing” by Heather Gerni. Prints available at etsy.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Patrick T. Reardon is the author of five books. His “Open Letter to the Archbishop-Elect” was recently published in the National Catholic Reporter and Crain’s Chicago Business. He writes frequently for the Catholic magazine Reality in Ireland.