Priestess dons the sacred shawl.
In these hills where cougars prowl,
Great horned owl with haunting call
Guards the place
Where the remnants of a race
Dance in secret by the lake.
Shakers of the carapace
Move with grace
To the singer’s rhythmic bass
And the beat of water drums.
Priestess comes with wedding vase.
Rite is done.
Gifts of corn and venison
Seal sacred vows of lovers—
Blanket covers two as one.
Cedar, holly, spruce, and pine,
Sacred evergreens surround
Clans bound where no walls confine.
Night birds call—
Shoulder longings, soar with all,
Kindle stars with sparks of dreams
On moonbeams at evenfall.
~ Cherokee, North Carolina
First published in River Tides by Riverside Writers. Edited by James Gaines. Middletown, DE: Create Space, 2017. 193. Print.
 The United States Army forcibly removed the Cherokee Nation from its ancestral territory during the years 1838-1839, but some members of the tribe escaped and fled to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
 Ceremonial rattles are often constructed from turtle shells.
 During a traditional Cherokee wedding, the man and woman share a single drinking vessel with two openings.
“The Old Cherokee Wedding.” Cherokee Nation. Web. http://www.cherokee.org/About-The-Nation/Culture/General/The-Old-Cherokee-Wedding. Accessed 5 May 2017.
“A Brief History of the Trail of Tears.” Cherokee Nation. Web. http://www.cherokee.org/About-The-Nation/History/Trail-of-Tears/A-Brief-History-of-the-Trail-of-Tears. Accessed 5 May 2017.
“Shell Shaker.” Cherokee Nation. Web. http://www.cherokee.org/About-The-Nation/Culture/General/Shell-Shaker. Accessed 5 May 2017.
“Cherokee History and Culture: A History Measured in Eons.” Cherokee Chamber of Commerce. Web. http://cherokeesmokies.com/history_culture.html. Accessed 5 May 2017.