Seeing in the Dark

By RON WELBURN

for Francis Martin (Nauset/Nipmuc)

 

Blind at night in the forest,

you are right about fear and

what it does to you there,

how fluids and adrenaline fix the eyes

on what the mind cannot accept.

 

And this explains it all:

How when they came here

the thick forests unnerved them,

How they couldn’t find each other

in the pursuit of some theory of white.

 

How is it that grandmother moon’s face

is impenetrable, disembodied, inchoate

in spite of narratives launched bedeviled by poetics.

How they started a legacy against trees and brown people.

 

And you are right again about that fear,

right as rain and morning and frost on

the pumpkin waiting in the dark.

For why should we fear when we are

the bear, the fisher, deer and vole?

 

Even the owl is of our community.

 

Ron Welburn (Gingaskin Cherokee and Assateague descendant) has published in over one hundred literary magazines and anthologies, such as volumes I and II of Susan Deer Cloud’s I Was Indian compilations, Yellow Medicine Review, Callaloo, and The Best American Poetry 1996. His seventh collection of poems, Council Decisions: Revised and Expanded Edition, was published by Bowman Books of the Greenfield Review Press. A professor in the English department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he formerly directed the American Studies graduate concentration and also coestablished the Certificate Program in Native American Indian Studies in 1997.

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Seeing in the Dark

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