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Archive for December, 2010

Roots

They knew the land back then
even better than scripture.

Sassafras bark
dandelion leaf
red raspberry
made the journey from backwoods
to kitchens
into pots and jars and vinegars.

Seeds crushed
greens washed
bark boiled.

Our grandmothers knew.

They knew the land
like they knew husbands and children.
like they knew giving and pain.

Their hands indigo and work stained
weaving high grass into baskets
like the mothers they were stolen from
scraps of lost languages under their tongues.

They knew the land back then
our grandmothers did.

Would bury their children
and plant to keep from turning to salt,
would hum hymns steeped in a freedom they never knew,
would quilt their dreams,
harvest with stars

and we left them there
lured by clean nailed visions of progress
we left our kin
and the aching hands
that caught us when we were born

sometimes I hear them

their hopes
rustling the branches
of proud peach trees

sometimes I taste their stories

in the medicines of bitter
endangered roots.

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