As kids we called it making stitches.
Here, at the Sac and Fox Pow Wow
women and children flatten
the damp grass of the circle
with their neat flowered sneakers
their pink and turquoise shawls
thrown round their all-American shoulders
their Bermuda shorts. Their feet
shuffle in unison, scuffle the earth
the good red earth, the good yellow earth.
Outside the circle stalls, selling corn dogs
and chocolate-covered cheesecakes
are queued upon by kids and their grandmothers
on a mound in Stroud, Oklahoma,
just off Route 66 across the highway
from the Sac and Fox Casino
and the Master of Ceremonies
in his easy drawl, keeps telling the crowd:
Not to mind the rain folks! The good rain
that has fallen and now the sun has come
and the good lord knows how we need the sun
and the rain and the great creator has sent it
down to sweeten the grass and let the dancers’
feet enjoy the feel of earth, the good red earth
the good yellow earth and any moment now, folks
the drummers will come in from the eastern
entrance of the circle and sure enough
just as the man said, in they came, big drums
skins taut as a pregnant woman’s belly, drums
held before them, solemn as bison and sure enough
that sound did indeed seem as if it was earth’s
bones creaking under our spectators’ feet.
And the women and girls danced together
in their neat, shuffle stitching rhythm
and those little steps, first to one side
and then to the other, took me back to us kids
playing in the back streets of Ulverston.
Took me back to Mam’s old Singer sewing machine
her hands rapidly shuffling alongside the staccato
rattle of the silver needle, flashing up and down
as she made a school bag to hold my PE kit
my name stitched in white on navy.
~ Geraldine Green
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