Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#8 for National Poetry Month - On Hiking the Smoky Mountains - First Draft

On Hiking the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

 I keep thinking about the Cherokee
on their land some 40 odd miles away –
the word reservation – as in something reserved
for.  I keep thinking about this
land that is no-one’s and for which so many
have deeds – pieces of paper marked and stamped
with the state’s seal – a proclamation that makes
it so.  And so of course I think
of my own black skin   in this South
in these mountains – the place of the Blue
Smoke the Cherokee called it – and how
on edge I am in it   such that I’ve a knife
dangling from my waist  a hunting knife
inscribed with a stamp that says something
of the Chippewa nation.  To be sure
I have never cut a man   but there have
been bottles broken   pockets full of rocks    
a baseball bat all meant towards grave
harm and thank God it never has quite come
to that.  But here again these good folk look
through me as though their being here has nothing
to do with my being here – carefully cataloging
the trillium and the showy orchids and the violets
and the hemlock and the deer and the blue heron
and the black bear – all of which the Cherokee
had names and stories for long before these good
folk had deeds.  I keep thinking about how
it’s a good bet none of these Cherokee come
here to hike – to walk for the sake of walking
this land which they once felt free to walk.
I’m thinking again   of course   about
the girl with us     my best made thing
and what I want to teach her about land
and people and respect and how maybe
the only way to do it is to take her down
to the reservation and sit in a bar there and tell
stories – the ones I was told about land
and hope that there we each hear a more
familiar song – something of smoke
and gods and nations – something to make
us feel free in our skins without all the sharp
edges we think we need to get by.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email ofer@blueflowerarts.com. www.facebook.com/rogerbonairagard www.twitter.com/rogerbonair www.cypherbooks.com


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