Iowa Writes

Ghost Dance

Lakota converged on Wounded Knee in battered blue Ford pickups, Winnebago RVs, shiny new Jeep Cherokees, and on horseback—to dance the Ghost Dance again. In ceremonial regalia and buffalo capes, dancers formed circles on the desert floor. As the dance continued, night and day, other tribes joined them—Paiute, Shoshone, Pequot, Chickasaw, Tlingit—a ring of rings, medicine wheel, a necklace of hope, power, and desire. Tremendous clouds of dust billowed into the piercing blue sky of summer, as if the great buffalo herd had come back, thundering from prairie graveyards, resurrected from mounds of skulls. 

On the seventh morning of the Ghost Dance, the good citizens of Keystone, South Dakota, a hundred miles to the northwest, were shaken from their beds by an earthquake. Above the town, at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the sculpted faces of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt seemed to shiver. Stones skittered down the cliff. Suddenly, with the rumbling sound of shearing rock, like a rolling temblor, the mountain itself unfolded and stood—a gigantic figure of a man. 

Like a thousand-foot-tall mutation from a Fifties sci-fi movie, it stood there: a stone monster with four heads. Shaking off huge slivers of granite, the colossus turned toward the rising sun and began to move. The four presidents' heads perched on the massive shoulders looked around and at each other, bickering about directions. The giant reached down, plucked I-90 from its roadbed like a ribbon, and wrapped the blacktop round its waist for a sash. Then it walked away, each stride booming like a thunderclap, heading east toward the Atlantic.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Vince Gotera is the editor of the North American Review (the oldest American literary magazine, founded 1815). He is also a professor of creative writing and multicultural literature at the University of Northern Iowa. His poetry books include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, and Fighting Kite (forthcoming). His favorite color is blue, especially aquamarine and periwinkle.

The prose poem "Ghost Dance" was published in Notes from the Flyover (NAR Press, 2006), a festschrift celebrating the life and work of University of Northern Iowa Professor Emerita Barbara Lounsberry. Dr. Lounsberry is a noted educator, writer, and scholar. One of her many interests is Midwestern life. Notes from the Flyover is available from North American Review Press.

Contact The North American Review Press

This page was first displayed
on May 09, 2007

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