The locals told us not much ever
and refused to trade glass beads
for corn or copper for wheat
and we died that winter, simply
and awfully. Of course we stole,
lied, killed, hacked the world
down to a few lines of smoke
and sizzling flesh, stumbled across
the frozen river hoping any live
color would bloom. And felt our own skin
shrivel into flakes and fragments that
held sky up to sky. No wonder Smith
staggered out of the woods, the name Pocahontas
a whisper ripped in air.
* first and last lines taken alternately from poems in Catherine Barnett’s Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced and James Galvin’s X.