Monday, April 9, 2018

Appropriating the Dance by Emily Strauss

White people shuffle sheepishly
in a circle following the leader
watching their feet, trying to sway
to catch the rhythm of a frame drum

three Modoc women in braids strike
at sunset, the yellow rays fingering
the far hills across the green hay fields
a fire built to lend smoky atmosphere.

White people circle, grinning
in solidarity, look— they're dancing
stepping on toes, trying to feel
the land's spirit, pretend they know

the words of the chant or the coming
night out on the desert while they retire
indoors, plug in the hair dryer, the drums
gone by then, echoes of a heart beat

lost on the smooth road back home.

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 400 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.

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