This year the snow folded us the same way, with the dance just clear of snow and the sun peeking out behind deep grey clouds showering snow in other parts of the valley. Dennis, with his fabulous pearl-snap shirt, jaunty cowboy hat with great feathers and salt-and-pepper beard, got up on the ladder to unbind the ribbons and I caught them to hand to the girls and women preparing to dance around the maypole. My sisters were around the pole, dressed in spring skirts and smiles. One of the ribbons snapped off and Dennis threw it around my shoulders, remarking with a laugh that I was the new maypole. Max later said I was the newest phallic symbol in town, ha! I wore the bright yellow-green ribbon the rest of the day. As the last ribbons came down from the pole crowned with roses, I ran back to the drum crescent and began to drum with the other men and the older women wearing pants. None of this was predetermined as far as gender or dress, it just happened naturally, without talking or arrangement, which I thought was interesting. I kept laughing with joy and also the irony that behind us, standing at the door of the gallery, was a large Zuni family observing our ceremony. The colorful ribbons braided with the weaving skips of the girls dancing and I laughed as our drumming sped up with the shortening of the ribbons, thinking about the Zuni family watching the white people's ceremonial dance of spring. How funny to think of this flip, how usually it is the other way around. The family joined us for dinner, a delicious feast of food all grown, raised and prepared by neighbors. Lamb stew, sheep cheesecake, smoked pork, beans, and corn chowder made with corn grown in Zuni. Stuffed and beaming, we rode back home and I still had the bright yellow streamer of the maypole around my neck. One year, one sun chariot, one circle of boyhood.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
It was May Day last year I flew in from the Pacific Northwest into Albuquerque and have been in the Southwest since. Last year I went from the airport straight to the Maypole dance at the Old School Gallery near Candy Kitchen, New Mexico. The sun came out and the snow stopped just for the dance and then came back again.