A Sioux Ritual
On the fourth day skin will be skewered
Bound to the skulls of Brother Buffalo
So that the living and the dead will dance together
In this the ritual of the Sun
And when the drum beats, blood weeps
Seeping into the dirt in sacrifice
Creeping into earth that gave life
To the flower of the sun whose image is born
In honour of the great Creator
On the fourth day there are those who will hang
By rawhide ropes piercing skin
Suspended offering above sacred ground
Feeling the pulse of feet that pound
To the rhythm of the tribal prayer
Yet the dance is not done until flesh is torn
Skin ripped open, pain pure,
A gift like the flower whose image is born
In praise of the great Creator.
First published in What the Dickens e-zine, Sunflower edition.
When the scorched earth cries out for water,
The sky can only weep dry tears
In arid sorrow, a drought-born lament
For the dead-to-dust returned,
While the cloud people listen
For the summons that will come
From the plains where no rain has fallen
And a season has passed in hunger.
This call will be carried by feet that stamp in rhythm,
In plaintive desperation around the burning flames,
And snakes are placed in the mouths of priests
Who whisper words of prayer to the rain gods,
Causing the earth to shake and murmur,
Its parched voice cracking under pressure
From the pounding of the tribes.
Slowly storm clouds gather,
A brooding malevolence holding its breath,
Sure of its power over life and death,
Choosing the moment in its own time.
No ritual dance can change that,
No snake-sung prayer prevent that.
But belief remains deep-seated,
Faith blazes like a beacon,
Feet stamp in rhythm
And the rains begin to fall.