Antoinette Nora Claypoole
Rock Garden Hearts
- for Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash

         In this whole world you can love but one girl
                  --The Shirelles

And so there are a few things. Which keep the moon in her Sky and the leaves turning yellow. Red. Falling. Seasons. Of the mind and heart. Flash forward and back. 2012. 1975. Time, the coyote. The trickster. We have been together before. We will be together again. We are always here. The circle is like Northern Lights returned from the oracle at Delphi.

Now. Then. A jump start into a two lane road trip. Soldier boy. The Shirelles crackling on the radio. “Wherever you go… take my love with you. To any port or foreign shore…”. Vacated truck stops and heading into an old Esso station. A paper map and three fingers clasping a Mars bar. The trip is full of sustenance. Shooting star reality. To keep the miles piling high. Like a Warhol painting it is the 1970's. Bottled mountain dew, no pull top cans. Sand between the heels of his feet and stones scattered in the dusty parking lot. On his way to Duck Valley Reservation. Nevada. Home to the loneliest road in the west. Her guess is that he loved all women. A six year old boy losing his Bandito mother is like etching petroglyphs of desire's fire into his eyes when any woman walks by.

Maybe. Trudell was Annie Mae's lover. Maybe not. What we know for certain is that he loved his wife Tina on that road trip. That fall. And that Annie Mae was still alive. Trying to get help from the young AIM guys who found her ahead of her time. In some ways she is still alive. In their paradox of love her/fear her, is she really one of us? In those days with that wild sense of destiny undoing what all the daddies designed, Annie Mae was beyond time and place. Wrong place. Right time. Right place. Wrong time. Once we delete us and them, right and wrong, then we come to knowing something true. No matter what happens on the road, someone's car wreck is everyone's crumpled candy wrapper. Tatooed on an arm. For all the lovers to take home.

But okay. Back to Trudell. And Annie Mae. She figured he was someone who could keep her from being murdered. Someone up in Canada said, not too long ago, that Trudell could even get you to kill someone, he was that powerful. Just by ….well just by being who he is. Aquarian. Pluto and the Moon. On his ascendant. Consider Hiroshima and how the world is never the same. After women and Sky meet uranium. Like that. Trudell now, so many years later, is on a road trip south. He has no “on Star” in his car. He is his own Milky Way big dipper following the skymarks to the answer. The mysteries like ancient Greece and Ariadne prevail. The minotaur awaits his freedom from their cages. It is woman through the ages who can save a man from death. Even half man half beast receives his reprieve, if like a magpie to the mesa he believes the Earth provides.

A woman. With a silver ring. Grabbing sun. A poncho of blinding light. Pierces. The windshield. A sundancer once. Yes. Victim of circumstance. Never. Nothing but raw fusion. Like that nuclear test site creating madness. The ring has no stone. No gem. Is circular and a holocaust. Of its very own. He agreed. That if she sent him a ring, she was in trouble. It was like a war code. He would keep her. From the fallout. Of the fact. That the wrong dude had picked her up. On the side of the road. And was threatening to take her life. This much is true.

The government did send in agents. Annie Mae did know who they were.

The ring can't even squeeze his pinkie finger. Claims he gave it to a chick at a pow wow once. In the lobby of a Federal Court in Rapid City circa 2004. He says this. Some things are better left between the dead. That silver ring Annie Mae sent Trudell is now mythical in Indian Country.

The mystery lingers. Like a Hollywood flick. He's almost there. The wind stirs up a dust devil. The highway calls home. Duck Valley is still a night away. From where he longs to be.

Trudell's got the turn in the road happening.

There are many stories which pop up. Like road signs hammered into the desert of our longing. Ripped by the wind. Landing in the lobby of a casino the LA side of Vegas. The stories cannot be ignored. The stories become the bet. He still has a long way to travel. Curved road rising. Up ahead. Sage and soda lids. On the dash. Almost home. Some of us remember he makes it back alive. While others die. To help him from the other side. This much of the story is all we really know.

We'll make up the part about him driving to Denver to save her. We'll remember that part about how she seemed just like a fed. And that a drive to rescue her might have been the death sentence. For him, his wife. His children. Which happened anyway. Is there a destiny in any of this? One thing certain. Time the coyote takes a fox and never looks back.

There is lavendar in the keyboard as I write this.
It is said to bring good dreams.
In the lodge yesterday I saw shooting stars taking my mind hostage.
I am not Patty Hearst.
I wish with every thought.
To be freed into the Milky Way of his breath.
It will always be like this. It has always been like this.
He. She. Us. No them.
Whether I am saved by the story of this.
Remains the mystery others will tether.
To their rock garden hearts.

Ashland, Oregon

In her own words, a letter from annie mae: