How Peace Bringer Brought Spring Back

Isn’t it just like life! You have to brave going through the shit in order to finally get to the gold – which has so much more value, the more trouble it was to get it.

TRIGGERS: If you are sensitive to mentions of violence or harm, you may not be brave enough to read those parts. You might want to read the happy parts though. (This is a pretty long read.)

Spring Came Back!

It was the heaviest blizzard so far this year. I was on my way home, slowly inching my old truck up the last leg of the hill. My windshield wipers, clogged with thick wet snow, just made smudges as they scraped left, right, left, right. There was more ice on the glass than clear space. Hunched over the steering wheel, my neck strained forward, still, I could barely see.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a dark form moving out in front of the State Park entrance sign.

Snow swirled madly in the yellow cones of light from the lamps above the sign. I crept closer to see. What the heck was anyone doing out here so late at night, in this hella storm?

Sure enough, a small man, creeping along, sliding his feet little-bit, little-bit, rather than picking them up. I knew that walk – you keep your feet connected to the earth when there’s black ice under you, even if you’re knee deep in fresh snow, as he was. Keeps you from falling.

I rolled down my window, “Hey! Want a ride?” His head picked up. Our eyes met, and I swear the entire cosmos reared on its head. Universes and galaxies and black holes reeled before my eyes, comets and asteroids, and the burst of new stars being born.

The next moment it was all gone. I shook my head – what? What was that? Shivers careened up and down my spine. My heart stopped and started in its nest.

He nodded. He’d seen.

I jerked my truck over to the flat by the big Park sign, came to a halt and jumped out. I ran over to him, gently took his elbow and helped him shuffle over to the passenger side, get in. He was so light! And weak as a newborn pup.

I buckled the seat belt for him – his hands were five-finger fans of rigid blue ice. I closed his door, thump, went around and got in. Turned the heat up, shut off the radio.

“Some storm!” I declared, watching him. “Why you out here in it, old man?” I had this inkling I knew, yet couldn’t articulate it. The feeling left as soon as I felt it, forgotten until way later.

I held my hand out, “Bill,” I said, and waited for him to extend his own. He silently lifted his left hand, holding it up, rather than out.

Duh, Bill, his hands are so cold, you expect him to shake yours? You know how much that would hurt?

I lowered my hand, embarrassed. “I’m so glad I saw you out here! You coulda froze to death!” I gave him my gloves.

He just gazed at me, his eyes saucered, beautiful brown pools in his sallow frozen face, reflecting the low dashboard lights. Nodded.

“Joe,” he whispered.

He had only a few bottom teeth.
Regardless, when he smiled, his face lit up.

He nodded again.
“I been walking for a year.”

walked for a year.
from Alaska,
the west coast,
visiting all the Nations

you’d never know it from his homeless appearance
no modern clothes
strange, grimy, matted feather cape
buckskins, furs, felted hat
worn out leather moccasin boots
blood spattered

I take him home

give him clean clothes, shower, food


much better
I put him to bed, full of meat and hot soup
he looks so happy
like a little kid

the next morning
Natives come by
silently stand by my door
I wonder how they knew he was here

we come out
we make friends

he’s the Peace Bringer they say
above all chiefs
although he never, ever, would claim that,
they say

I’m new in the area, I say
where’s your wife they ask
she died, I say
they nod

what is your Path, they ask
I make stuff, I say
they nod

we make more friends

after a few weeks, he’s Home.
we love him
kids flock to him out of the blue
they grab his knees, arms
pull him along
he goes
smiling softly

my 16-year old gives him his bedroom
moves in with his little brother

we make more friends

Peace Bringer hardly said a word
when he did it was whispers, yet everyone could hear him

when he laughed it sounded like
the susurration of the foam of the incoming tide
shushing the loose pebbles
at the edge of the sea.

I got him some new clothes and a beautiful warm blanket
had a dentist give him new teeth

after weeks of fattening him up like a pig
he was lean but no longer skinny
muscly but no longer sinewy, scrawny

we grow to love him like our own grandfather
we go fishing, trekking, w family and w/o
he brings joy where ever he goes

he never asks for a thing
people ply him with gifts
he gives them all away
I ask him why
wouldn’t the people who give them to him be upset?
no, he says, they know
he says the gifts are not for him
what more can he possibly need?
they are for him to give to people who need them

he’s the epitome of kindness, generosity, humbleness


at end of a year, he says we need to go back

oddly, there is a blizzard again
we go anyway despite my protests

we drive to the Park entrance
he says hide the truck
weird, but I do it

he leads me behind the sign
tells me to hold his hand tight
I am to say, “Here, June 12, 1890.”
I do
a gargantuan light explodes
suddenly it’s summer
it’s June 1890

he tells me of the People who live here
big trouble
bully running the tribe
he’d had to kill him

he’d promised to come back in a year

the tribe has changed now
new chief, Watcher

Watcher tells me Peace Bringer was born in 1719

but he’s only 68 –
huh what?

Watcher tells me Peace Bringer’s father and his father before him
were all Peace Bringers
no matter what it took,
it was their job to bring about peace
where ever and when ever they were

I’m so confused!
how did – ???

the light, remember?

I nod
Time portals!

he nods.

Peace Bringer thought he had blown it
by killing the bully
he was coming back to take his punishment

the tribe gathered around us
Peace Bringer wrings his hands
but they bowed to him
honored him

he wept, surprised
I was coming back for my punishment, he cried

oh no, we bless you,
we finally are free and can flourish now
we were slaves under him!

we are invited to stay and visit as long as we like

they heap gifts upon us both

Watcher comes up to me
greets me by my secret name

how did you know that?

I knew your father

what? how . . . ?

he was Beauty Maker here
he went ahead 2 years ago to see how things were and never came back
we never heard from him again, except for this
he holds up a beautiful white bone feather, about 6″ long

my father carved that!
I remember him carving it when I was a boy!

yes, we found it where he left, a year later

and this, this year, which is another year later
he holds up another piece – a gorgeous spear head flaked out of black and clear obsidian

we know from these that he went to Alaska (bone) and Tule Lake (obsidian) and that it was peaceful in Alaska and warring in Tule Lake (pron. TOO-lee)

yes, you’re right, only last year has it calmed down in Tule Lake

we found this in the same place: a simple little bird carved in curly walnut
so we know he made peace and prosperity there.
is he still alive?

yes, he is, and you’re right,
he brings beauty where ever he goes

Watcher told me of a little boy who could not be controlled,
raving, ranting, possessed by chaos
he had my father make him a simple Beauty spoon,
Peace Bringer blessed it, gave it to the boy
as soon as he touched it, the demons flew away and never returned,
he was the center of Calm, as long as he had that spoon on his body

Oh I exclaimed
I remember that story
I never believed it
I thought it was just symbolic!

no no, it was true.
here’s the boy – he’s a young man now
he introduces me to New Snow, whose touch ripples through me to my core,
settling nerves I hadn’t known were riled

but wait a minute, I said
suddenly piecing together hints and clues from scores of strange incidents in my life
does that mean I’m a Beauty Maker, too?

Watcher’s eyes glowed, seemed to drill into me
miles deep
I found myself grabbing Joe’s arm to steady myself
I’d almost fallen in

yes, you are now waking up to your Path at last
you have been living it, but now you Know.
although it’s about to make a radical change.
you must never stray from your Path
or you won’t be able to come back,
and you will have very bad luck and die

whoa! not so sure I like that

it’s not for you to like or not
none of us ‘like’ being under such a geas
but we must live it
we are born to it
and ultimately it is the most important Gift of our lives,
even if it kills us to fulfill our roles

kill you?
how can it kill you?

show him your scars, Joe

Joe/Peace Bringer walks up and lifts his shirt
Bully man, he mutters
walks off, letting his shirt fall back down

stripe after stripe
bright wide glaring crimson scars
criss-crossed whip marks
some shallow, some still deep enough to sink a finger tip in
neck to butt crack, and some below

yes, it almost killed him
but he fulfilled his Path.
he was just about recovered when he left 3 years ago.

3 years . . . what?

ahhh, how long was it on your side?

a year.
I found him wandering on the other side in a blizzard

Watcher shakes his head
crazy damn man
he really knows how to pick Traveling times!

we laughed

he explained: the length of time we experience on our side
is not always the same as what you experience
on the other.
he could have left in our time, 1890,
come back in 2024,
and it might only have been a month here.
or the other way around – a year here might be 50 there.
we never know.

my son – is he a Maker, too?


my dad was 25 when he left
78 now

is he still Making?


who can Travel?

we all can, but only the Bringers and Makers do.
it’s too dangerous
we’re the only ones who have the training.
others who are in dire danger can go across
as in times of fire, or flood, or earthquake
or war
but they have to know what to say
so they don’t end up in the Nothing-Between
whole towns have been known to up and
or show up full force in other parts

I’m thinking Chaco Canyon, I said
the Incas and Aztecs

yes, that’s right

let’s go eat


how did Joe get those hideous scars?

Watcher sighs
there was a woman . . .

figures, I say

he smiles, sad.
Rose Spring, the beauty of the tribe,
her Path was Keeper of Spring
she fell for Peace Bringer
married him

Bully was consumed with rage and jealousy
constantly aboil with fury

one morning, Peace Bringer went out
foraging for bone and stone
he’d planned an overnighter
down by the ocean

knowing Peace Bringer was gone
Bully stalked Rose
caught her washing her clothes by the river
she was 8 months pregnant
Bully drags her across the scree
scraping and scratching her body on the sharp river rocks

pins her down
pushes himself so deep inside her she breaks in two
smashes every bone in her slight, little body
like fragile little chicken bones
like little dried twigs
ripped her unborn child from her bloody loins
hurls it into the swirling roaring cold cold river
where she was swept away into the flooding waters
he closes his meaty hands around Rose’s neck
squeezes them slowly
choking the breath right out of her
until she faints
her lips bright blue

he throws her about like a rag doll
she awakens
never makes a sound
her wide staring eyes
riveted upon him
start to final merciful last breath
saying with them, I see you
I see you
I see you
you will never live this down
I see you
driving him mad with rage
why wouldn’t she cry?
why wouldn’t she submit to him?

Bully awakens from his killing trance
sees her flaccid, defiled body
her dead, dead form
realizes what he has done
screams so loud his cries rend the earth
a great ridge pulls up where he had so furiously violated her

the scent of fresh earth fills the air
hundreds of soil-fingers reach up
sway back and forth over her
start to cover her body
her sacred violated body
and pull her down, deep, under the surface
pulling her down
burying her
sighing, crying
as they melt into the pile together

he watches her broken, bleeding body
becoming whole again
bruises disappearing
cuts and scratches vanishing
hands relaxing
peace on her face
as she
softly dissolves
into the embracing, loving, earth

the ridge
ROARS out loud!
thunder fills the air as it
thrusts itself 30 men high
builds itself of the sharpest pieces of stone

he couldn’t climb over it
couldn’t find a way around it
couldn’t get back to the Tribe.

Spring, in its grief, stopped coming.
instead, great clouds of buzzing biting black flies
and mist and fog and chilling dew
mildew and black mold crept into every crevice
the sun was erased from our lives
thick fog crept in
filled every crack
you couldn’t see three feet ahead of you
and cold! so cold!

no new shoots or tendrils wound themselves
out of the winter cold
no bird nests or early flowers
no fox kits playing
no bugs or bears or wolfine pups

Spring was dead


the earth wept and wept and wept
we were pounded with rain dawn to dusk every day

Bully finally makes it over the earthen boundary
covered in scratches and gashes
bleeding through his filthy, shredded clothing

Bully stands at the center of the square
cries an alert
cries, she’s dead! She’s dead!
swears it’s all Peace Bringer’s fault
for stealing Rose from him
Rose was supposed to be Bully’s
Peace Bringer stole her

Peace Bringer limps into the square
he had gotten swept downriver
by Bully’s earthquake

he hears Bully scream
she’s dead!
she’s dead!

Peace Bringer feels his knees give way
my Rose?
she’s dead?
how could this be?

Bully roars
I killed her!
he laughs
now you can’t have her!
She’s broken!
She’s dead!
She’s gone!

unable to bear one more second of this tirade
this blasphemy
the earth herself groans
and strains
shifts under them all
starts to wobble and wriggle
everyone staggers and falls
unable to stand or even lean upon the houses

the fog starts to disappear
thick grey clouds of haze and cold
turn into drizzling dripping droplets
into pouring cascades
into heavy downpouring water
into gushing horizontal sheets of
sweeping rain
the earth’s rage tsunamis across the square
the furious water
starts to gather in walkways, pathways,
turn into small creeks, brooks,
finally rivers
all channeling into
the square

it becomes a thrashing pond,
gripping, sticky, mud at its core
splattering and splashing up
onto homes and houses and bodies

no one could move
paralyzed by the crippling rain
covered with goo and gore
the very earth weeping for Rose
in fury at the abomination of Bully
standing arms raised, screaming
laughing at its center

suddenly Bully seizes Peace Bringer
drags him to the center pole
lashes him to it
with narrow leather straps
pulls out his whip
a long leather braid with three leathern ends
each one knotted onto a long rose thorn
he declares
“100 strikes for this coward
who couldn’t even defend his own wife . . . ”

the rain turns into flood
pond becomes small lake
higher and higher it fills
the water ankle deep
knee deep
thigh deep

Bully wields his whip
strike after strike

Peace Bringer
refuses to cry out
holds his power in
despite the agony, the torture
never utters a single peep
holding Rose
her beauty
her love
her steadfastness
filling his heart
giving him courage

the water is waist deep now
Bully rages on
strike after strike
the ugly thud of thorn and leather against flesh
turns to scrape and rend
chipped bone and
gleaming red blood
splattering everywhere

finally, at 99,
Peace Bringer’s head drops
falls against his own shoulder
rests on the wooden pole
barely alive

he vaguely wonders
can I make it

Bully strides over
infuriated Peace Bringer is still alive
whispers in his ear all the despicable things he’d done to her
one after the other
regaling each one in exquisite, evil detail

Peace Bringer says nothing
awash in his grief

Bully explodes at his silence
punches Peace Bringer in the face so hard
his jaw breaks in two
his teeth fly everywhere

Bully shrieks with laughter
a hyena of horror
in the center of the waist deep lake
of cold cold water

the People
crowd around them
encircle them
tighter and tighter
they cry,

Watcher draws out his knife
slashes the bindings around Peace Bringer’s wrists
Peace Bringer’s hands fall,
down by his sides
he starts to faint, his body slithering into the mud
Watcher catches him
screams in his ear
“Live! Live! For Rose!”

new strength fills Peace Bringer
he stands
pushes Watcher off
stands taller
pushes his jaw back into place
faces Bully

Bully throws his head back
loudly laughing
“look at you!
dripping in blood
slumped over and collapsing
your life draining away
you can’t do anything to me
you weak nothing of a man!”

Peace Bringer
a coiled spring
leaps over to Bully
snatches the whip
right out of his hands
turns the handle around
shoves the hard end of it hard into Bully’s windpipe

Bully grabs his throat
can’t even gasp
can’t breathe
his eyes pop out of his head
in gut-deep terror

Peace Bringer pushes him
pushes him down
shoves him into the sticky, muddy water

Bully rears his head up
tries to gasp
has no strength

Watcher hands Peace Bringer his knife
hands slick with his own blood,
he grips it carefully,
slashes it
a whip fast slice

torrents of blood stream forth
from Bully’s bull-like neck
gouts and fountains of brilliant red
steaming and stinking
streaming into the frigid air
Bully’s eyes roll up and out of sight
he collapses back down into the water
the cold, cold water
rolls face down
his life escaping through the void in his neck
doesn’t get up.
ever again.

the sun shoves away the clouds
streaks of brilliance pierce the haze
the cold wet fog evaporates
the sheets of wild rain fizz into thin air

we all look up
look at a sun we had all almost forgotten even existed
in our enormous misery
of no spring
no life renewal

the sun
the blessed sun!
lighting up the square
at long last
warmth begins to spread
yellow is returning to the world
light fills every inch of space
revealing the horrid mud-splattered
blood covered

we watch as the waters miraculously dry up
slip and shrink back from our houses
we watch as the waters
silently slide into the dark earth
out of our homes
our animal pens
our gardens
the forest

we watch as the mud dries and
cracks off our bodies
our skin
our houses
our animals

the hideous mud turns to dust and dirt
falls from us,
becomes brand new
beautiful thick black fertile earth

we watch as Peace Bringer’s jaw mends itself,
comes back into one piece.
but we never find his teeth in the mud

we watch as
green shoots
like little daggers of joy
pop forth out of the ground
like armies of life
little soldiers of
spirals and tendrils and leaf tips
climbing, growing
filling the square with waves of wee green spears
new little grasses
and look!
someone shouted
at the foot of the pole, shiny red new leaves
climbing up
growing into leaves of bright green
climbing up
turning into thorns and buds
climbing up
turning into red red roses
covering the pole top to bottom and back again
“It’s Rose!” we cried!

nothing could express our love deeply enough
we cried her name
over and over
again and again
ashamed we didn’t protect her better
knowing yet
that life happens without telling us its plans
that we were forgiven.

Rose came back
Rose was here.

We fall on our knees, kiss the grasses
kiss the rose leaves
kiss the roses

We wept
for all the lost time spent
in fog and cold
the mold and the mildew
the shivering bone deep cold
the hopelessness

We wept
for all the pain
the terrible terrible pain
she suffered

We wept
for every lash of whip and thorn
for every drop of blood
for broken jaw
and lost teeth

and we wept for
gash of throat
the loss of a single life
even one so consummately detested

we wept and we wept
in grief and regret
in shock and delight
we cried in surprise
for the sun
the new life
we wept with gratitude

Spring was returned to us

we wept
that Righteousness had been restored.


Watcher turned to me
Peace Bringer stayed with me for weeks,
he said,
it took what seemed like forever
for his wounds to heal.

one day he told me he wanted to find Beauty Maker

he left soon after that.

Now he has brought Beauty Maker’s son to us.
But you have a new Path to walk, my friend.
Peace Bringer is old, tired.
He wants to pass his Path to you.

Me?!? ME? I cry
Who will be Beauty Maker then, when I die?

“I will,” said my son,
behind me
walking over, with my dad.
Only you don’t have to die!

He grins

Where . . .
How . . .

Never mind, said Watcher.
time is short
we must do this thing before the sun reaches zenith today.

So Peace Bringer comes over to me
holds out his hands
I take them in mine
at once,
I feel a river
a river making the Mississippi look like a trickle
a river flowing into and through me
streaming into me
flowing into every cell
every bone, every artery
every hair.

simple peace.
not a hassle anywhere in the cosmos
I became Peace.

At the same time, my son . . .
how did he get to be so big!
I’d thought he was just a child!

You’ve been gone for two years, Dad, I’m 18 now!
he laughed at my shock

it’s only been a few days here, I cried

That’s OK, Dad.
He took my father’s hands,
my father, Beauty Maker’s, hands
and I could see the Beauty pass into him
making his face glow
his hair haloing out from his head
making his hands tough, ready, curious
his arms powerful
his heart blossom.

He was now the Beauty Maker.
I am now Peace Bringer.

Joe and my dad walk away together,
grieving the loss of power
glad to be free
glad the Path has new blood.


Watcher sees them leave
creases of love furrowed between his eyes
turns to me

are you ready, he asks

I don’t reply

we leave tomorrow, for Alaska, he says
he walks off.

my heart quails
I’d thought I could go home . . .

but this feels Right.


How Peace Bringer Brought Spring Back
© Angela Treat Lyon 2024

Image: Spring Flowers and Critters
© Angela Treat Lyon 2023


I hope you enjoyed this first segment of the Adventures of Joe, Peace Bringer.

There are many Good People in the world. And believe it or not, even outblustered by People Who Do Bad, there are far many more of the Good. Look for them – they are all around you, everywhere.

Be one, first, and more will show up to join you.

Comments are closed.