Does humanity have enough reverence for life to cope with the atom? Poet Marilou Awiakta poses this question in this book, which was first published in 1978, shortly before the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island. Fusing her Cherokee/Appalachian heritage with the experience of growing up on the atomic frontier in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Awiakta explores humanity's dilemma -- and hope -- through the legendary Awi Usdi, Little Deer, a Cherokee spirit-teacher of reverence. She follows his trail as he circles through the saga of Tsali and the Cherokee removal, then into the thoughts of early pioneers and the vision of John Hendrix, who foretold the coming of Oak Ridge with such accuracy. Winding through the poet's childhood, when the atom was split in secret, the trail leads to the retired Graphic Reactor and, finally, into the heart of the atom itself -- and into our hearts, where we must ultimately resolve the question of reverence for life.