Tap foot on drumbeat,
the ground reacting equally
to each step, pressing through the foot,
rocking the dancer,
knee and foot are stalk and shoot
as he dances, as he dances.
Two young men from the Omaha nation
begin a warrior dance, wearing
white yarn fringes, grass ribbons
around their ankles, they go low
to the ground then rise up again.
Sweetgrass and blades of beargrass
hung on dancers’ bodies
green grows the leaf
tied with a grass that never breaks,
to honour their ancestors and this space.
The grass shows them the way to be
dancers who bring good energy
to the pow-wow ground for others.
Here with Lakota friends, the pipe-carrier
says to me, ‘Now it’s the Inter-tribal:
it is time, you are going to dance.’
Going round with all the others
the ground feels alive
where the tribes have danced all day,
dancing grasses, dancing grasses.
images: Inverted photograms of Common Sedge Carex nigra and Greater Pond Sedge Carex riparia