Published Work of Miriam C. Jacobs

Home » POETRY » Living in history, The Ibis Head Review, March 2018

Living in history, The Ibis Head Review, March 2018

POETRY

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Living in history

Under the hanging tree
one hundred years and nearly dead now
where light catches slivers of vertical swing,
we almost hear the whinny of horses,
almost feel the prickle of sweat
on the backs of our arms, claw at invisible knots
chafing our windpipes.
We sift ancient dirt with our teenage sons
beside us, scraping for arrowheads.
Their careful, carved planes whisper
of a past we cannot quite decipher,
its commonplace crimes.
We are too raw, too credulous to do more than guess
how Natives foraged here and danced before the hunt.
Their painted bodies and the grim
Jim Crow south, its dry tongue,
and marching women stifled
in hand-sewn banners:
these are stories to us. The city’s tall shadows
mirror the land in reverse, her buildings
chasms of imagined lives on the ground,
our survivors’ shame,
found stones in our pockets.

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