Two winter tanka

Laramie Foothills:
the Soapstone Prairie bison
shift in the long grass,
February snow melted,
morning sun on Red Mountain.

Almost midnight now.
Orion has circled south,
the Great Bear dances
on his tail in the northeast:
late winter on the high plains.

Doing some filing. Finding snippets of verse on half-sheets. Finish or toss? These were saved from the recycling bin by the fact that they must have been written a few years back but at just this time of the season. They have a gratifying tactile quality, like coins pressed in clay.

Plough Monday (Mummers’ Dance)

She doesn’t understand their language,
so they dance
in naked feet and leather boots,
hooded and robed, in cotton shirts
or bare-chested, with fire sticks
and petals on their faces.

Alone, in packs of five or six,
walking widdershins,
fluttering hands
like the wings of rock doves,
dancing poetry in the world of acts.

And it may be that once she did understand.
Eons past, our guttural sounds had sense:
she formed our throats, whittled bone,
the small muscles of our voices /
but time passed.
She lost interest.

So now they jig-step like jesters
at the heart and edges of power,
on the all-consuming
blind and toothless crone.
Throats dry,
with a finger,
they inscribe on her broad, flat palm
the word for water.