In elaborate costumes they call
the spirits out, the sacred twines
among the watchers, dancers
stomp together, shake their
headdresses, become crow,
bear, gods, ancient beings.
Today we wear bright cotton
masks sewn by expert quilters
from old scraps, safe enough
for the market, we lay coins
next to the lettuce, edge back,
fleeting spirits in crib-blanket
pastels, gingham curtain red,
finger towel mauve.
Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 500 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.