The boy leans forward between two slow-talking Indians, huge and heavy in dark plaid and black hats. He is glad he left his holster and silver six shooter at home this year.
The air is still, its scent of sun-dried farm dirt as light as feathers. Even the harrowed corral is waiting, its dark clumps flattened for the coming of the horses, the spray of their hooves. The only movements are behind the gate, dark faces, arms tight on ropes. He listens for the horn, wanting that surprise again of some local native youth, a guy from the poohall, one he would never have noticed in town. The gate moves and now here he comes flying from the chute up on the back of a pounding, kicking, whirlwind. The boy is standing. Wow. This guy holds himself upright, the other hand swirling, legs flying in the leaps, with just as much determination and skill as the best Texas cowboys he's ever seen at the big stampede back in Ponoka.
And then the chuckwagon race, the ultimate event for a kid--three brown wooden wagons, the old-fashioned farm kind with seats and wheels and nothing else, no canvas covers or fancy logos, and in the seats, three native farm boys holding back their horses until that horn sounds, and the earth shudders under hooves like hammers, and the drivers' long arms whip down their reins, lanky legs straining against the boards, black hair flying as they career tightly round those two barrels, then thunder off together into the straightaway.
Mouth open, adrenaline pumping, that one moment out on that reserve.
Wandering then, as the evening cools his young spirit, he hears the drums begin, and the chanting -- hi ya ya ya hi ya ya ya -- a circle of men and women drumming and chanting together, enclosing him between tall dark people, between their canvas and skin tents and just as his legs begin to follow the rhythm in the light of the fire a warrior moves from the shadows in beaded buckskin and feathers stepping slowly into a dance, and with each touch and tap of his feet the sudden rhythmic jangle of bells on his moccasins joins the beat of the drums, and the chant as it slides into song, its words from the Indian world but the rhythms make sense to the boy's young ears, and the movements of the dancer, his head down and down, then up, his feet tapping, stomping, tangling through the beat, all this builds a home in the boy's mind, far from his own, yet right there in front of him.
And as the decades pass, as he dodges, back-pedals and leaps his way through stressful white culture, its continual attack and defence, its judgements -- always there is this peaceful place, the jangling moccasins, soft tap of feet, the communal drumming, the communal chant.
You, Linda Eva Williams, Yvonne Maggs, Alan Flowers and 2 others like this.
Larry Burfield I like your thinking Stan!
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Stan Burfield Definitely one of my favourite pieces of writing to date.
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