Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Busk

Silver finned fish swimming shallow
caught in the swallow of a hand.
Green corn gourd shake women follow
ribbons, and a man

bloodlets bygones be bygones
as fasting turns to feast
and Stomp Dance - those sacred steps
carried secret from the east.

***

Process Note Longer Than The Actual Poem:  The Native Americans had names for the full moons. These names varied from tribe to tribe, of course.  The August full moon is known as the Full Sturgeon Moon, the Red Moon, and the Green Corn Moon (among others).

Among the southeastern tribes (Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole, etc.) there is a ceremony known as the Green Corn Ceremony.  It is sort of a celebration, thanksgiving, religious cleansing all rolled into one.  Details vary widely from tribe to tribe, but, in general, there is fasting and purging (the Busk), gourd shaking, ribbon dancing by the women and children, Stomp Dancing by the men, and feasting.  Some tribes do ceremonial blood letting by scratching the arms and legs.  Some tribes forgive all crimes (excluding murder) committed the previous year.

As I'm sure you all know, the southeastern tribes mentioned above were "removed" to Oklahoma in the 1800s.  Tribes still perform the Green Corn Ceremony here.  However (as far as I know), these ceremonies remain secretive and closed to the public.

My poem combines elements from different tribes and is not intended to be historically accurate.

For Izy's prompt at Real Toads

22 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

Of course I'm partial to June's Strawberry moon, but I find all the myths associated with Native American moons to be fascinating. I love how you selected exactly the elements which spoke to you in creating this piece.

razzamadazzle said...

I love this with your incorporation of the native names for the moons. Lovely!

hedgewitch said...

You've used the run-on nature of some of your descriptive/action lines to really give immediacy and a sense of what for lack of a better word I'll call spirituality to the rituals you describe, and what they represent, something that is at the heart of being human in the natural world, something that we replacers of the old ways have forgotten, and for the lack of which we suffer. The notes were definitely as interesting as the poem, but I believe it could just as easily stand alone.

Kay L. Davies said...

I, of course, am fascinated by process notes.
I also have many friends among the Canadian First Nations people, so I enjoyed your poem a great deal.
K

Karishma Shetty said...

Beautiful!!
Your process notes are so interesting. Thanks for sharing your process with everyone.

grapeling said...

'caught in the swallow of a hand'

love that image, MZ. and thanks for the notes - I learned new stuff ~ M

Hannah said...

Wonderful, MZ! Love stomp dance! I appreciate your process notes, so interesting. :)

Mary said...

This is wonderful, MZ. I am always impressed with the variety of subjects about which you write...and your variety of styles.

Brian Miller said...

this is pretty cool...we used to have a tribe that did a big pow wow by the college i went to...i was always rather fascinated by the rituals they did allow us to see....

Fireblossom said...

Did you know that the Asscratchy Tribe of the Arkansota plains had a custom of writing out the song of their people in horse dung? Their biggest fans were a group of settlers called The Literalists, who ate it up. Honest.

Helen said...

... impossibly wonderful!

Patricia A. McGoldrick said...

The rhythm and rhyme add so well to the content drawn from Native American heritage.

Margaret said...

I sucked in my breath at the beauty of this poem, sighed with understanding and appreciation over the end notes... and then gafawed at Fireblossom's comment. :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I enjoyed the poem, but especially loved your process notes. I hope for a resurgence of these practices, and teaching of the younger generations, so they never are lost.

Isadora Gruye said...

MZ: stunning piece here. Even without the process notes, you captured something beyond elemental. I heart this! Thanks for participating in the out of standard!!!

Susie Clevenger said...

Love the poem and the process notes. I lived in Oklahoma for 9 years, my youngest still lives there in Tulsa...so familiar with the Trail of Tears.

manicddaily said...

Such absolutely terrific sound here -it is a stomp dance of consonants and concepts and core values - very cool. k.

Marian said...

wow.

Loredana Donovan said...

Bygones be bygones. Yes! :)

Lorraine said...

Special, poem is fantastic and I Love the factual history bit

Other Mary said...

This is a powerful distillation of Native American rites. Beautifully done. I love the way you cut to the bone, and dispose of all that is not essential.

Lolamouse said...

Very cool poem, and thank you for the history lesson! FB should be a professor, she's so learned!