Native Dancer

(image copyright 2008 by Dan Routh)

Native Dancer
Devin Routh

The earth blurs beyond his skin as the drums pulse.
Lines of light trail in the black and white and
Gray of his bustle and vestments, a ghost behind the breeze.
His face is a stone on a riverbed, motionless beneath the torrent.

Borrowed feathers crown his head, drape
Down his back like quills on a porcupine;
The sullen eagle feather perches above his eyes,
Sovereign of the skies, impetus of his movements.

Is he a son of Crazy Horse? Is he Lakota? Is he a warrior?
Look for a lightning bolt across his face and hail stones over his torso,
Symbols of the Shirt Wearer at Little Bighorn when he killed Honska.
No, all I see are tracks and claws on his sleeve, beaded totems in his hand.

When brothers are dead, movement becomes memory.
Chief Joseph told his Nez Perce, the real people,
“From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever,”
But the dancer will always feel the wind beneath his feet
And hear the whispers of all the tribes.

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