Monday, June 29, 2015

July 1991

must’ve been the driest, thickest day of July
when we dismantled the tipi
dust rested on plants and sitting-logs
thick and gray
like some hellish frost
come to blight our paradise
dogs were walking powder puffs
of earth’s sloughing off

95% humidity sent sweaty rivulets
coursing between women’s breasts
drew smooth steady patterns
on kids’ dirty faces
paintings on tipi canvas
looked faded and dull
 from six years of pounding weather
and six weeks of no rain

teenaged son shinnied
up and up
like some four-legged creature
at home in his jungle
tugged each lacing pin from its moorings                                                                                              
where canvas was lashed together
some slid out just right
others took yanking, cussing
before they let go
one after another, till all were out

he roared as he grabbed the top edge
of tired, mildewed canvas
            awakened it from its comfortable resting place
and with one mighty shove
sent it sliding down slick debarked pine poles
like a giant skirt
slipping slowly, provocatively
            around the ankles of a mountain of a woman
it landed in folds and heaps
on the dry cracked ground

someone beat a drum, someone cried
someone  moaned—I think it was me
dogs and cats ran
someone played a flute
someone howled like a wolf
strong-shouldered husband and neighbors
heaved loosely rolled  tipi canvas
to edge of tree-line

seventeen poles stood naked and strong
skeletal remains of our Brown County era
they sprawled in a circle 28 feet wide
leaned into each other at the conical top
bound together with thick sisal rope
thirty feet above hard clay-packed floor
above plywood platform
where beds had held our family
close to earth’s steady heartbeat

someone played guitar
someone hooted—crazy, insane
like barred owls carrying on psychotic
conversations in the dark of the night
someone yip, yip, yipped
like coyotes on prowl  

daughter and friend arrived
full of  young woman sensuality
            began dancing on plywood platform
pounding feet drummed steady rhythm
more feet, more drumming
more feet dancing, drumming
hoot, hoot, hooting
kicking up dust

sweating, laughing
crying out for rain
drinking cheap wine
smoking last year’s harvest
stomping, thumping
with bare feet, booted feet
on hollow wooden floor
wild and free
caught up in primal celebration
the moving of the lodge
the feasting of the tribe
prayers for rain, rain, rain

distant thunder, was it? did you hear it?
was that lightning? did you see it?
thunder again—closer
we danced harder, faster
drummed, sang
drummed, danced
rain sprinkled, showered
poured from the skies

mothers and others carried drums
guitars, babies to nearby shack—
door and windows swung wide open
storm-crazed dancers
undaunted by nature’s pelting
perpetuated rain-soaked plywood vibration
with unrestrained ecstasy  

we slung off dripping clothes
to rhythm of pounding feet
t-shirts, shorts
jeans, skirts
tossed into one colorful
soggy, sloppy heap
naked skin like naked tipi poles
shining wet, clean, cool

thunder boomed
dogs barked, babies cried
we drummed our moving-on dance
till slippery plywood threatened to break fragile bones
and massive electric bolts
too close for comfort
shoved us indoors

pounding rain continued to drum
the rusty metal roof as we
panted our thanksgiving
and fed one another
from the multi-purpose
stainless steel dishpan
heaped to overflowing
with July’s ripe, juicy blackberries

                                  Glenda Breeden

1 comment:

  1. What a glorious scene you bring to life! MKP