Tootoosch, the Thunderer
Written in January, 1945 in the midst of bombing operations carried out with 426 Squadron RCAF. based at Linton-on-Ouse near York, England. 426 Squadron was the ‘Thunderbird Squadron’: “On wings of fire” was the Squadron motto. Tootoosch was the Haida name for the Thunderbird
God of the sun, inhabitant of skies
Where flash the fork-ed lightning’s jagged flames
From storm clouds black and fiercely ominous;
God of the Ravens - mighty thunderer
Tootoosch, thy totem lives and breathes again,
Once more thy lightning’s flash and thunder’s roll
Strikes terror to the craven hearts beneath.
Thine eyes dart flames, destroying those whose deeds
Have earned thy wrath. Amidst the raging storm
Thou came and brought thy fledgling-brood with thee.
On wings of fire - fly they now with me
And sing that cataclysmic song of thine,
‘The chant of death’ that only they can sing,
For that they live and - dying, live anew
In those that surely fall after them.
Each night they’ll sing their trackless way
Amidst the stars that thou dost call thine own
And bring thy curse unto their enemy.
Thy clutch will be within their curving hulls,
The eggs of death - that thou didst prophecy
Would burn the tents and scatter pestilence
O’er all the land where dwell the hated race,
Will nightly rain upon their naked heads.
And we who live and are thy savage brood
Desire only this one boon of thee:
A warrior’s death, a warrior’s home in eternity.
[Editor’s note: The poem was included at the end of the transcription of the letter of March 31, 1945.]