I look toward the row of trees
where water runs slow and see you blurred
by a thousand years; your skin wet
as you crest knoll dragging clay filled pots.
Your brown hands pat clay dug
from shaded stream, onto braided cordgrass
covering earthen lodge. Spread
it smooth with a bison scapula to sun
bake into waterproof roof. Painstakingly
we lift that same clay daub
collapsed centuries ago. Find
where you placed evenly spaced poles.
Were they willow, supple yet strong
or cottonwood now edges stream?
This June day, sweat channels
ancient dust layered on our skin.
“Come see!” a sapling thin
woman calls, uncovering a circular
depression lined with fire blackened
hearthstones. Here you kneel, parch
wild grains for evening meal.
Scraping bone hard dirt with care,
I unearth a mouse skull. Did it
steal your gathered grains? I
finger potsherds; each minutia
of your life marked for further study.
you turn and fade into late day blue.
We load artifacts into crates for the ride back.
Our leader chooses to hand carry your
tribe’s ceremonial pipe. Remarks,
“and still no peace.”
~ Jean Jackson
Jean Jackson was a stay-at-home mother of five in Lawrence. After her nest emptied she volunteered at Watkins Museum of History, the Senior Center then Independence, Inc. where she accepted the job of librarian for their specialized library. She writes free verse and Japanese poetry with haiku, senryu and haibun.
Guest editor: Annette Hope Billings is an poet/actress/playwright from Topeka, KS, who has written two collections of poetry. In 2015, she stepped away from four decades of nursing to writing full-time and explore where her creative path was leading her. Her most recent collection of poetry, A Net Full of Hope, was published last year and has been well-received, garnering her a readers’ proposed title of “Maya of the Midwest.” For more info about her book:tinyurl.com/anfohbook To view videos of her work: tinyurl.com/anfohvideos To follow her on FaceBook: Facebook.com/anetfullofhope.