- No Longer, and: Wars of Attrition, and: Irreversibility, and: Hived Bees in Winter
Removal—that sorrow trail but a weary exile just the same.
What tremor can be measuredin the pale wave of light that blazes a path of eviction?
Gazing at maps,water calls attention through absence.Lakes and river reachesin northeastern Oklahoma, the Scioto, Rio Grande, Kaw Columbia, and Snoqualmie.
Watery seduction— migration's sultry stroke of fatigue.
To visualize the stones of a dry riverbed— stubble of a razed cornfield— cultivate the ankle's gaze.
To weather that expulsion path— hunch the shoulders into a perpetual wince.Look back often.Squint in the lightthat shines on the backs of the knees. [End Page 36]
Conceive a vista:Deliver hills sleek as a panther's shoulder blades.
Finger a rattlesnake fangdrag its miniature scimitarthrough river clay inscribe the clans of a good genius society.
Wars of Attrition
Mapping out territoryin 1984— my older cousin ditched mein the scrub brush behind our granny's house
locked in a dog crate, five years old, howling.
Nine years ago, I taught her oldest childhow to write her nameon the back of a grocery list.
My hand huge over her crayon clamped fist.
Paper plastered across her boxy, little torsolike a peace treaty as she galloped through the living room.
I was teaching seventh grade when my cousin died,sugar gumming up her system like a glinting trail of dried snot. [End Page 37]
Unable to focus, my mind flitted over the Cascades past a lake full of tree trunks poking up like rotten molars
landed in eastern Washington next to my grandmother's backyard— next to my cousin's red curls.
A map is not a neutral document, one of my students parroted bubble-eyed.
And I muttered that's right correct.
The significance of the dam is not found alone in the magnitude of its dimensions, nor in the workmanship that has gone into its construction. It lies rather in the ends which are to be served.L. IKES, Secretary, United States Department of the Interior, 1947
Balanced on an iron trellisover the Columbia River,a recollection of massive sturgeondappling under the glassy surface waveslike sunken panthers. Coulee Dam Bonneville Richland
When a family immigrateswhat trails in its wake? [End Page 38]
Irrigation's slick hope seepsinto the shady corners of company towns,entropy unspools: Cle Elum Diablo Conconully
The oldest girl watchesworkers shoveling concrete and shale into a gulley.Fearing rattlesnakes, she terrifies her siblingsby pointing out glinting chips of mica and proclaiming them fangs. Priest Rapids Lower Monumental Mud Mountain Ice Harbor Granite
What swims stunted riverswhimpering and scratchingfor riparian embrace?Recollect before the dam, salmon in the river swam so thicklythey could be speared from horseback.
Hived Bees in Winter
The Indians (as yesterday) remained as quiet as hived bees in the winter.DANIEL R. DUNIHUE, Superintendent of Indian Removal Journal of Occurrences, 1832
Plum moon heat—deep and pungent.The Wapakoneta band of Shawneemuster in a grove to wait for four days' rations. [End Page 39]
In the periphery,the horizon is a memory palace.A verse is woveninto the curve of the river.Hiding in a fringed prairie openingis an accountof the maidenwho fell in love with the loon.
Driven slowly into the west,the old folks walk cowedbending low into the corn.
Three men petition for permission to make campbeside hunched burial moundsalong the Scioto.
The superintendent of Indian affairs acquiesces: I did intend going tonight to the feast of the Indians. Death feast.Upon leaving the graves,an orator laments. It is their custom to recite and mutually and undisquietly express their sorrow for their losses.
The superintendent is startled awakeby a stray horse trailing a rawhide hobble.The heat is gentle yet.A line of women are sitting on the wagon and chanting;under their draped legs are sleeping children.
In the miles that follow,a singer prods the corners of his mouthscanning the horizon...