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This poem is taken from PN Review 49, Volume 12 Number 5, May - June 1986.

The Hoop John Cameron

The nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no centre any longer and the sacred tree is dead.
-Black Elk of the Sioux

Someone was walking in the room next door.
I thought the house was empty, but it seemed
someone was pacing round the bedroom floor

a moment since. His footsteps crossed my dreams
as I was waking; sunlight bleached the wall,
and on the other side, no doubt, it gleamed

upon his space. Each step rang hard and small:
a slow, deliberate measurement of pain.
At times these old, familiar sounds appal,

at times it seems the morning light is strained
from utter blackness. Yet I bear it all:
the scattered hoop, the poison in the grain,

and naked angels, shattered in the fall.
My own steps echo in an empty hall.

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