The fall issue of APPALACHIAN HERITAGE
( www.berea.edu/appalachianheritage ) catches the eye right away. Sean Ross's Mask Dancers peer out from the page, as if ready to leap. Ross's paintings invigorate the interior pages where poems, stories, and essays, some translated from the Cherokee language, await the reader, reminding us that the Cherokee people still live in these mountains, painting, writing, telling stories, and passing down their culture as they have always done.
Novelist and poet Robert Conley, now at nearby Western Carolina University as the Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies, is the issue's featured author. Years ago I invited Mr. Conley, living at that time in Oklahoma, to be a part of the Visiting Writers Series that I then directed. Everyone liked him so much that we invited him back several times. Now he lives here!
The issue contains a poem by a former student of mine, Debora Kinsland Foerst, the amusing "Settin' Up."
Debora has had her poetry and prose published in The Raleigh News-Observer, Writers and Books on www.ncarts.org, Kakalak, and numerous other publications and anthologies.
And there's Mary Brown's recipe for apple stack cake! Preceded by her poem in both Cherokee and English.
MariJo Moore's poem closes out the issue.
MariJo (http://marijomoore.com/) presents Spirit Speaking Gatherings & Intuitive Consultations and resides in the mountains of western NC, where she is currently working on The Boy With A Tree Growing From His Ear & Other Stories.
Traditional Mysteries Remain Still
(Inspired by the painting “The Booger Dance Interrupted” by Sean J. Ross)
MariJo Moore © 2009
Rattle of old gourd seeds
keeping mysteries intact.
Red bandannas atop white sheets
floating in musical silence, impending beats of drum.
Masked dancers moving
among the senses of imitation,
pressing desires, causing women’s laughter.
Old ones draining shadows, gaining
strength from the young.
Young ones gathering wisdom, taking
experience from the old.
Interruption! Masked as righteousness
cracks in the gourd rattles.
falling onto dismembered grounds.
Going not to water,
germinating into silenced, soiled pauses.
Imitation no longer masked:
Cherokee see, Cherokee do, Cherokee “saved.”
Becoming simply stirrups
loosely attached to the saddles of plenty-costing religion.
But here, painted somewhere
in the darkest dawn of remembrance,
traditions continue and gourds mend.
Rattling of hidden seeds keep mysteries intact.
Colors imitating dance imitating
Dance, Boogers, dance!
Note: The Booger Dance of the Eastern Cherokee is interpretive of the reactions to the greed of various invaders. By wearing masks that resemble the invaders, the dancers imitate their actions to lessen the seriousness of the intrusions. Once thought gone due to the Christian religion, the Booger Dance is now being reinstated.
A fine Christmas surprise for family and friends would be a gift subscription to Appalachian Heritage.