It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but Poet’s Corner is a special feature where I invite local Word Press poets to be highlighted on my blog. Special welcome this morning to Amy Harke-Moore from A Rural Girl Writes.
Hi, I’m Amy, and my idea of the good life is a farm in rural Missouri, a place with an uncluttered horizon, peppered mildly with the scent of large animals.
I like life served up simple—simple food, simple living. Homemade over store-bought. Hard work and kindness. Faith. Kitchen table conversations with a steaming mug of coffee. This blog is a reflection of that, part inspiration, part practical living. (Taken from Amy’s About Me page where you can find a lot more information about Amy.)
I discovered Amy’s blog during this year’s April A to Z Challenge. It’s so laid-back and comfy it’s like visiting for a cup of tea and chatting. While visiting there yesterday (or it may have been the day before since I seem to have lost a day somewhere), I was blown away by a poem she had written. I identified so strongly with the emotions that run through it as my reaction at Gettysburg was much the same. I think it also hit me so strongly because of the precarious times folks of minorities find themselves in in our country right now. I have to say the last line of the poem is STILL reverberating through my heart. It is so powerful and pregnant with meaning…
I don’t know how to reblog something from Blogger, but Amy has been gracious enough to give me permission to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it. I also asked her if she could tell me the history behind the poem, which she was glad to do. I always like knowing the backstory of poetry. Thank you, Amy!
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While driving out west on one of our vacations, I saw a sign for Wounded
Knee Cemetery, and knowing enough history to know this was a place of
significance, we–my husband, daughter, and I–decided to see it for
ourselves. I don’t remember what my expectations were before seeing it,
only that it was not what I expected. The cemetery was small in size, at
least back when the poem was written, roughly fifteen years ago. There
were no stately trees or manicured lawns–maybe that was what I had
expected. It reminded me of one of those old church cemeteries you happen
upon out in the middle of nowhere.
So we stopped to look around, and right before we were ready to go, the
scene unfolded pretty much as described. Standing there, we felt a
reverence and a gratefulness that we were there to witness the man’s
chant. He had a couple of white friends with him, showing them around, and
there were no feelings of bitterness or strife, just that he was honoring
his ancestors. My explanation doesn’t really capture it, though I hope my
poem does. As to the ending line, I knew it was powerful, and that my own
meaning might be misconstrued. For my own part, I meant that our cultures
are so different that my experience living in this country was probably
not his. Yet standing there for that moment, we came together on some
level, if only briefly.
One quick note about word usage. I realize that younger generations might
take offense at my use of the word “Indian.” I mean no disrespect
whatsoever. The fact is, Native American is not a term they use–though
one could argue they don’t use “Indian” that much, either. My
understanding is they go by their Nation or Tribe to self-identify. Also,
I felt it stole something away from the title, which was originally
Walking past headstones at Wounded Knee,
I am tourist for the day.
Watching names rise from the parched earth,
planted back in the sorrowful season—
No Ears, Yellowbird, Her Many Horses . . .
Death grows well in the little cemetery on the hill,
where prairie grass struggles to breathe,
and trees never do achieve a graceful height.
An Indian stops by with an offering.
The wind sifts and carries the dust of his ancient song to the dead,
through granite and ground, back to bone.
His song resonates, sticks in my Adam’s rib,
catches hold of my breath.
And I stand, head bowed in Sunday reverence,
waiting for the benediction.
A moment later we turn to go—
him to his Chevy,
me to my compact—
Each to his own America.
Amy — personal
Poet’s Corner — parisplay.squarespace.com