from “Shadow Poems”

The people believed in a future
        with her face—
                   her seeds
                           stars’ dull hatchets
                   behind the black bark of the moon
        and the whole forest grew
                             when they uttered
the ancestors’ old notion
          that those who have been buried
                   with a little honey
          after marshaling a mournful sound
                              thrown in circular waves to the west
can appropriate similar words
          for Creek, like        
                    the flower which expresses the fruit.


Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Foerster. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

"This poem is the first in a series of 16 poems entitled, collectively, 'The Shadow Poem,' based on erasures of seven texts written by explorers or Indian agents to Creek Country (present-day Georgia, Alabama, and Florida) from 1527 to 1828. 'The Shadow Poem' is part of a larger work that experiments with form and source material to explore and expose areas of invisibility in landscape and history, specifically that of the Muskogean origins in the American Southeast. This is a poem of questions. How does the imprint of the past on our future generate growth? What threats or masks do faith or hope preserve? As our language transforms with our ecology, what new responsibilities to language should we/could we be more aware of?"
Jennifer Foerster