Brown Bear’s Medicine Bundle

On the eve of my son’s
eighth birthday, I taught him

what a medicine bundle is
and untied and inventoried

the bag of objects we had
collected from around Wisconsin

all spring and summer:
one white-pine pine cone,

one spotted downy
woodpecker feather,

one clump of wool cut
from a sheep at the Elroy Fair,

one stone from a dry creek
in the driftless coulees,

four 6-inch sticks sharpened
at one end with a pocket knife,

and one crow feather found
as we skipped stones as far

as we could at the luxury yachts
going in and out of Green Bay

past the point of Potawatomi
State Park, where he remarked,

“This is the best year of my life.”
And I saw myself the morning

of my First Communion
in a boat on the Rock River,

fishing with Dad for bullheads.
The boy had become somebody.

—Adam Halbur, Saitama, JAPAN