from “Shadow Poems”
The people believed in a future
with her face—
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 Elise Foerster is the author of Bright Raft in the Afterweather (University of Arizona Press, 2018) and Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press, 2013). A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Foerster has received a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University. She teaches in the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing and at the Rainier Writing Workshop. She lives in San Francisco.
Date Published: 2019-11-28
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/shadow-poems