The Hoop Dancer

For Sunday Whirl: Wordle #26

The Hoop Dancer

What I remember
is a beautiful young man,
bearing pride of his people
on straight angular shoulders
held stiff as he danced
through hand hewn hoops dropped
on stage. They’d been fired,
bent, in ancient manner.

Hand sewn leather strips
swished to beat of moccasined
feet, that stilled only when
he told of broken promises,
treaties of meaningless words
spoken by men whose true causes
should have toppled from weight
of greed which compelled them.

Remember listening quietly
as those gathered asked shallow
questions about traditions they
learned while watching television
as children. Left, feeling somehow

Have wondered about him,
through the years, that beautiful
young man. Did he bolt afterward,
into the night, to drive toward home
alone, bursting with sadness,
perhaps struggling the entire way
with the need to forgive
such blinded ignorance?

Elizabeth Crawford  10/16/11

Notes: When I saw the word hoops, I knew what I must write about. It was difficult to bend the wordle words around this long ago experience that still haunts me at odd moments. The beautiful young man had come to our city to share his tribes traditions, using music he himself had written and clothes he had sewn with his own hands. The hoops were beautifully and lovingly decorated. But, the audience seemed to want to ignore the effort and skill and question him about the obvious, one of the topics being how rich the Native Americans have become since casinos have come to our state.


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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12 Responses to The Hoop Dancer

  1. Mary says:

    Beautifully thoughtful poem, Elizabeth. I wish you knew the answers to your question, what happened to this young man. Perhaps it is a blessing we don’t have all our questions answered, and we can just hope.


  2. Marianne says:

    Lovely, introspective piece, Elizabeth. I can tell that long ago night made a huge impression on you. I’m glad you included your notes so we could learn the back story.


  3. Elizabeth. this is superb. I love the poem, its imagery, its sadness. I am heartbroken by the plight of the American Indian. Wonderful write.



  4. Nanka says:

    Nicely done which shows much compassion and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of the victim!!


  5. Oh Lord, Elizabeth, do I ever resonate with this. Your process notes especially. And I love that you thought of how he might be feeling, going home. Argh.


  6. Tilly Bud says:

    I had a moment like that once; it stays with you. The line that jumped out at me, then, had to be this one:

    Left, feeling somehow


  7. Loved the poem and your notes…!!

    hanging my head


  8. Traci B says:

    So sad his audience missed the depth of his artistry and the wealth of tradition he was sharing with them. I would have loved to have seen his dance; thank you for bringing it to us this way.


  9. islandcat2u says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience and using the words so eloquently. Yes, and your observation at the end is one that rings so true in many diverse cultural situations. We can be too quick to judge and not to be present and enjoy the richness of all that is good with cultures different than our own.


  10. vivinfrance says:

    Elizabeth, this is a fine poem, leaving me wondering about the shallowness of people. You have aroused my sympathy and admiration.


  11. brenda w says:

    Thank you for writing this, Elizabeth. When I added the “extra” word hoops, it was because of the book “Lakota Hoop Dancer,” that is included in the Soar to Success curriculum. The exploration of your own feelings and perceptions provide strength and depth to this piece. I love it, Elizabeth. With your permission, I’d like to include it as an additional resource with Lakota Hoop Dancer. I’m always looking for materials about this topic, that will enrich student understanding.

    It’s sad that the audience chose to focus on Indian gaming, rather than applauding the young man for his artistry.


  12. Poets Rally says:

    a story positive and beautifully told.

    check us out, share your talent today.


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