Rattlesnake Tribe / Lightning Nation

28th Rainbow Family Gathering of the Tribes
July 1-7, 1999, Allegheny Forest, Pennsylvania


Somewhere out there
roaming the wild vistas
of the heart, I’ve heard,
is a tribe anyone can join

We are the forest
sprouting up through leaf-duff and fern
under the spreading limbs of our elders,
tying and re-tying our knots
till we learn the art of the stormtight shelter

Somewhere out there
on the free horizon, the family
of all opposites is converging
from the seven directions Home

We are the meadow
waking one morning between unfamiliar streams
of footsteps and voices, remembering
from some distant generation of meadowgrass
a dream of firelight and drumming

Somewhere in the heart-pulse
of light and dark, the long-lost
orphans of the Earth are gathering
for the reunion feast

We are the stream
singing to every pebble and boulder we meet on our way
in a babble of continuous praise, a parade
of barefoot pilgrims chanting holy laughter,
forever seeking the easiest way downhill

Somewhere in a sweaty flashback
hallucinations are hugging,
the annual parliament of anarchists
is assembling

We are the mountain
sheltering its immaculate community
under broad leafy wings, protecting the Indiana bat
and the Eastern timber rattler, offering a home
to all creatures too wild for the human zoo

Somewhere far
below the deep blue sky the armies
of every continent and faith link hands
across the wildflowers to dance

We are the rainstorm
sailing high on its weatherfront
between the mountain ridges, roaring its drunken guffaw
just to hear the valleys echo, shooting down
electric dragon-talons at whoever stands tallest

Somewhere high
above the treetops a prayer
sung in all the languages of silence
breaks the surface of sound

We are the rainbow
shining after the storm, arched from cloud to cloud
like a bridge between hardships, a path
from one lesson to the next, disappearing
when the last of us has crossed the abyss

Somewhere asleep
in your classroom reveries
and cubicle daydreams is the vision
of a tribe anyone can join

We are the poison fangs
of rattlesnake and lightning, the rocky trails,
the slick mud, the haze of humidity, even
the biting swarms of Pennsylvania State Police
on our dirt roads: this year’s catechism and curriculum

Somewhere deep in the Earth
under your next step,
and the next, the vision breathes
on and on and on

We are everything
we have endured together, year after year, and we
carry it with us always from now on,
stronger every summer— thanks and praises!
—than we were the year before