A Red Woman Was Crying:

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Sightlines

 

Surveying along the trail at Osilado-ko,

peering down sightlines, impaling the earth

with blackpalm stakes to mark where I've been,

I define their world with my lines and angles.

 

The map I've made still floats, unanchored.

If I shoot the sun before I leave this place

I can link my stakes to Greenwich,

and I can finally learn where I am.

 

I laugh at Copernicus. My sun moves,

falling towards noon. Expectant, wary,

I track it. Then, crosshair-hemmed,

it hangs an instant, rises away.

 

In this vision I comprehend zenith.

From it, I'll make this place mine.

 

I find her watching this celestial hunt

sitting against a tree, bloody infant

resting quietly on her still-swollen belly.

The cord disappears in her wrap.

 

My mapping her world disturbs nothing, I said,

left no traces, no scars. The stakes will all rot,

and even the sightlines we cleared for my lens

will grow over by the child's weaning time.

 

In cold country now, I imagine her saying,

 

Child, when I bore you at Osilado-ko

that white man of ours was surveying the sky

in the same way he marked all our ground.

But oh little one even he couldn't sink

any blackpalm stakes in the sun.

 

 

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