The Gathering of Lights and Waters

15th Rainbow Family Gathering of the Tribes
July 1-7, 1986, Allegheny Forest, Pennsylvania


1. Rainbow on Wet Pavement

The rain god is smiling
on me again, and
I get wet

The clouds have come down
to sniff the highway
and leave their scent

and the oil of trucks
makes a rainbow on wet pavement,
washing back into the ground

The old ones are with us

The rivers travel through
our sleeping settlements
like always


2. Heart's Content

by segregation or other means
in the furnishing of accommodations,
facilities, or privileges on
the basis of race, creed, color, ancestry
or national origin is permitted
in the use of this GAME LAND

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania"

The old ones are with us

That boulder's been settin' there longer
than any of us remembers, but it
remembers longer, and the young ferns
crowd close as any child born
trusting in forever will


3. The Gathering of Lights

The five planets went retrograde
and so the Family gathered
in all the visible spectrum of our variety
to be whole again

(Our lost ones gathered with us
from the Ultraviolet Fringe
to the Outlaws of the Infrared
and we were whole again)

The moon was dead and not quite
ready to be born again
so we packed our flashlights
and one by one came wandering
into the circle of light-bearers
to be whole again

The old ones are with us

The trees hold our guylines taut
and kindly shade our tents
and then at nightfall
drop their nets of utter blackness
over our pale searching beams

4. The Council of Drums

First you carry the drum.
Follow the heart beating under your bare feet
down the naked path
and find your place among the drummers
at the council fire.

Then the drum begins to carry you.
Close your eyes and
leap with the sparks whirling up from the fire,
ride the steady pulse
of many hands releasing these taut notes trapped
in the skins of animals.

In the dark of the moon the circle of faces
reflects the fire, each
staring out of its private trance while the hands
of the drummers travel on,
a restless company of nomads walking homeward forever.

Stroke your own taut skin,
feel the animal inside come alive again: rest
until the dark lightyears
quicken in your wrists, and strike the first round note
in honor of an unborn moon.

The old ones are with us

The stars dance in the rising eddy
of smoke and rhythm, an echo
of the campfire's trance
winking down from the ancient
gathering of lights

5. The Gathering of Waters

Pennsylvania was a woman
plumed with ferns,
pendant with dew, uncomplaining
under the feet of her children

(In the Garden where we gather
arms of long afternoon reach golden from the sun,
the sun a gem set in the cleft of mountains
as she lifts the day's
gold-stitched hem over her face and stands
goddess of twilight a while, and soon
the night)

Pennsylvania was a woman
growing round in her spangled gown
as the nights grew more brilliant
and the moon's time approached

until her bag of waters broke and flowed:
bogwater, the moccasin-eater
creekwater, talkative
under the eaves of our tents
rainwater, slick on our log bridges,
puddling the tarpaulins
springwater, a continual fountain
from our plastic pipes into plastic
jugs and bottles—

We stood in line to be
water-bearers on the birthday
of a new moon

(In the Garden where we gather
a flute-player sits hidden in the waist-high reeds,
the drummers glance up at the sound of laughter
on the sky's taut skin
and the rain god beams down)

The old ones are with us

All night the streams tell stories
of the origin of circles
as they meander our sleeping camp,
and by morning the trails
are a riddle in footprints


6. The Circle of Aunts and Uncles

Stopped beside the trail to listen
where the Sister Circle swayed
and sang

A child stood watching the traffic
of bare feet over the tender earth
of the trail

Lingering there I saw the child
venture down the fern bank to stand
looking back and forth a moment
before setting out sturdily

When I caught up I spotted underneath
the muddy t-shirt that sure sign
of a boy

The sister who came running down
to retrieve him scolded only,
"The Brothers' Circle is too far.
You have to stay
with us."

The Sister Circle swayed and sang.

I traveled on
over the tender earth, remembering
the northbound highway that brought me
home once more to this swaying and singing
of trees and wind, the circle of Aunts
and Uncles

The old ones are with us

Look, we have constructed an altar
to the Mother of all the children!
(Brothers and sisters, are not
all these littler ones our nieces,
our nephews?)

7. Under the Prism of Vapors

Yes, we came by the highway of the empty cars
flocking home to their barns before dark

We travelled the landscape of streetlights and signs
under the electrical hallucinations
of America

Over the dry slumber of the continent
whose prophets have died preaching Rapture we came
to put up our tents in a circle
and call one place Home

A village springing up and vanishing
under the eaves of the forest like mushrooms
of the Millennium, the reunion
of all Relations

We open and close our eyes these seven days and nights
on the garden of Imagination,
singing songs of the long Revolution, one more circling
of earthlings under sun

And baptized
in the mud of the Mother,
bearing the dust of memories like precious pollen,
we depart on the four winds to carry on
the practice of Rapture

The old ones are with us

We gather in ancient light, each
moment's radiant envoy
has traveled a straight line
ninety million miles to rest here
on the nakedness of children

8 . Four Corners

Far across the farmland
that was once a forest,
across the rangeland
that was all wild prairie,
across mountains and desert
the old women of the oldest race
tend their breakfast fires and wait
for the dawn of a day
numbered on the calendars
of a younger nation, marked
for the quenching of these fires
their grandmothers tended

The day breaks
and they have not departed

Their grandsons are returning to them

Young women unknown to them
touch the earth and pray with them
this morning, eyes they do not see
are looking south and west, wishing
long life to their granddaughters' children

The old ones are with us

The grandmothers have not left the sacred mountain
Spirits gather to applaud the sunrise
Like tributaries on our way to the ancient
gathering of waters, we wander
and remain

9. Prophecy of the Rainbow

Everything goes
in a circle

There will always be
another summer

Someday, Mother
we will grow up
and be grateful