by Karenne Wood
- Darkness stretches itself through winter months as a penetrating
cold into fur through elkhide and beargrease, entering skin
until it quivers in Haudenosaunee hands. The smoke dancers
step into the light, their singer tapping his water drum, its skin
the deer whose death blessed it into song. Cookfires wink
across palisaded towns, mirrors of the stars themselves.
The men dance quick steps to the beat
- - thighs like haunches
churning. They know their music, hopping
- song at drum's pause,
then faster until smoke rises. It is done this way, though longhouses
are fewer. Men step toward the circle, begin as though nothing has
changed, as though men of their time, as they are. Now they dance
in a white tent
- - the audience leans forward, knows them as men,
and they pivot and stomp, leap and whirl, kin to the animals, they rise
as birds, sway as saplings, grow fluid like water, swirl and flow
as they become the air their people breathe.
From Markings on Earth, University of Arizona Press.
© 2001 Karenne Wood
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