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Poem: "Dancing Down the Sky" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Dancing Down the Sky"

This poem was written outside the fishbowl sessions.  It was inspired by a comment from siliconshaman under the poem "Winged Destiny" by kestrels_nest.  It has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette.  You can find the other poems in the Fledgling Grace series via the Serial Poetry page.

Browse the birds: American crow, broad-billed hummingbird, chickadee, condor, great northern loon, and red-winged blackbird. Browse the tribes: Cherokee and their birds, Chitimacha, Crow, Hopi, and Ojibwe.  Read about the Eagle Dance with picture and hummingbird mythology.




Dancing Down the Sky


The powwows had become
more colorful than ever,
now that people bore
the wings and tails of birds.

Nobody was surprised when
the Crow opened their black wings,
kin to the American crow.
The Ojibwe spread out
black-and-white bars and flecks
of the great northern loon.

The Hopi showed up with
the green wings and steel-blue tail
of the broad-billed hummingbird.
That was eye-catching.
They couldn't fly,
but they could make
an exciting thrum with their wings.

There were some, of course,
who fledged with wings
brought by their mixed blood --
the glaucous gull of the Vikings
or the pale British pigeon.
The Irish ravens blended in
innocuously with the crows.

Then the white relatives
began to arrive,
fair-skinned blondes
with the gray wings and tail
of the tsïkïlilï' or chickadee
from the Cherokee tribe,
handsome auburn-haired men
with freckled skin and
the tricolored plumage of
red-winged blackbirds
from the Chitimacha.

"I told you," they said,
"that I had Indian ancestors,"
and finally people believed them.

Some wings came
seemingly at random.
There was one man
with huge wings so black
that they shone metallic blue
when the sun struck them just so,
broad and strong like those of a condor
and yet not quite like any condor living today.

"Extinct species,"
the scientists said, but
"Thunderbird,"
the tribes whispered.

Then there were the people
who fledged with the wings of eagles --
golden eagles and bald eagles mostly --
men who had done the Sun Dance,
warriors distinguished in battle,
women who were many times mothers,
or storytellers, or great beadworkers,
dancers of all genders and any tribe.

There was a man who had
done the Eagle Dance for years,
who had a shirt sewn with real eagle feathers.
When his bald eagle wings came,
he hung the shirt on the wall
and danced naked to the waist,
wearing only his own feathers and his skin.

As he danced,
wheeling and turning,
dipping his shoulders until
his banked wingtip touched the dust,
it seemed that the world whirled with him

and his moccasins scarcely touched the ground.

There was a Head Lady Dancer,
much younger, who had done both
the Women's Traditional and
the Fancy Shawl Dance.
She set aside her eagle-feather fan and
covered her face with her own golden wing when she bowed.

Around the Drum,
the uncles sat with
their hands on the sticks
and their wings touching on all sides.

There were more people coming
to the powwows than had come in a long time,
more and more at every event.
Something was gathering momentum
and everyone could feel it.

There were children flapping their tiny wings
and crowing with native tongues,
suddenly fascinated by the words
that only the old men and women remembered.

The storytellers were telling
the stories of birds,
all the old stories,

and the dancers
in their holy feathers
were dancing down the sky.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: technoshaman Date: November 24th, 2012 02:17 am (UTC) (Link)
*happy sigh* endings....
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 24th, 2012 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

... and beginnings.

"End, beginning, same thing. Big change."
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: November 29th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful. The image of the eagle dancer makes me wish I could draw.

It also makes me wonder what wings my son would fledge with. How many half-Irish, half Native American Jewish teenagers are there, anyway? He's learning about Paganism too, he just doesn't realize it applies to his mother....
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 29th, 2012 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> Beautiful. <<

Thank you!

>> The image of the eagle dancer makes me wish I could draw. <<

Me too. This is turning into one of my more photogenic series. One reason I've gotten into Deviant Art is hoping to attract more artist friends who might like to illustrate some of the things I write.

That's a pretty straightforward description of some Eagle Dances I have seen, both the feathered and the hoop versions.

>> It also makes me wonder what wings my son would fledge with. How many half-Irish, half Native American Jewish teenagers are there, anyway? He's learning about Paganism too, he just doesn't realize it applies to his mother.... <<

Could be any of those. Let's see, Irish includes raven; there are assorted Jewish birds of which the common version is the pallid swift; a bunch of different Native American options depending on tribe, etc. I haven't done much with Pagan yet.
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: November 29th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

That's a pretty straightforward description of some Eagle Dances I have seen, both the feathered and the hoop versions.

It is, and yet not. There's something far more visceral about an eagle dancer whose wings are his own. Truth, rather than symbolism.

Let's see, Irish includes raven; there are assorted Jewish birds of which the common version is the pallid swift; a bunch of different Native American options depending on tribe, etc.

Tribe would be Mahican. Any Jewish aspect would be purely spiritual, as he's adopted. Which actually raises yet another question - how would adopted children fledge? By their adoptive heritage, or their genetic heritage, or some combination of them? And what of adults whose parents never told them they were adopted, as used to be common practice? Hmm. Must ponder. :)


Edited at 2012-11-29 03:12 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 29th, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>> It is, and yet not. There's something far more visceral about an eagle dancer whose wings are his own. Truth, rather than symbolism. <<

True, of course.

I meant the dance moves, mostly. That banking turn appears in every eagle dance I've seen.

>> Tribe would be Mahican.<<

Cool.

>> Any Jewish aspect would be purely spiritual, as he's adopted. Which actually raises yet another question - how would adopted children fledge? By their adoptive heritage, or their genetic heritage, or some combination of them? And what of adults whose parents never told them they were adopted, as used to be common practice? Hmm. Must ponder. :) <<

This led to a poem about the permutations of feathers among adoptive families. "Silkies" is written in free verse.

39 lines, Buy It Now = $15
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