For Patty Waters 



          We were coming down from the top of First Mesa, after visiting an old Hopi woman who lived there; we could hear the singing clearly, even if nothing of the ceremony was visible to us. We’d known from the signs along the road that we weren’t allowed to see the sacred dancing, but had decided to go, regardless, to the woman’s village. A little girl came up to us and said very politely: Excuse me, non-Indians aren’t allowed here during the Kachina Dance; then she skipped past us down the dirt track.

a child’s variation
upon trance

there are souls
it was said
whose faults are as if written

on paper in a dream
the yellow-haired girl and I
stroll by the water’s edge

there’s a small wound
at her wrist
she mimics the geese’s cries

as we walk in their midst
and they lift their wings
to slap against the cold air

there are souls
whose faults are as if written
on sand for the wind

          While we were driving through the desert, away from First Mesa, I began to talk about a singer I’d long admired, whose work had been severely marginalised; indeed, it was all-but-forgotten.
           Spare, reticent, tender melody was certainly present in her singing, but it would give way to an athematic exploration of sounds that couldn’t always be plotted within conventional pitch-notation — and these often seemed extended from such as sighs, moans, screams, cries, shouts. Wistful, passionate, sad, anguished, joyful, serenely resigned, or enraptured. A voice that sometimes appeared to ride on the merest breath, could assume an intensity that evoked a fierce wind. Visited, ecstatically; as part of a serious game, a sober inebriation. For her distinction was also in the way that her singing took on all the colours of a devotion that passes through the stations of self-abandonment.
           Suddenness, transverse.


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