Southern Legitimacy Statement: Too often, our Native American past has been ignored or left out of Southern history. Here in Fayetteville, Arkansas we have a long connection to the Cherokee Nation. From 1839, when the John Benge detachment on the Trail of Tears camped on the edge of town and for decades more we had a prominent Cherokee presence in our town – a presence that even still exists today. My current work is to try and record some of that history and presence so that it does not fade into the forgotten past and out of our recorded history.
In fading light of dusk
inevitably leading to night,
when no bright hint remains
all is dark, all black, all black,
should a single light appear
do not fail to mark it
do not fail to leave it
never veer, never swerve,
nor be tricked by sparkling
lesser, beckoning lights,
stay with the first bright light
never drifting, never doubting,
lest a fall follow free floating
to repeat, relive, all pain –
hold firm, the light urging,
guiding, leading, into a vast and
bright place, a place without
pitch of dusk, gray of dawn, or the
impenetrable solitude of darkest night.
When that time comes, as come it must,
when next moonrise, sunset, may be last
options gone, possibilities at end,
fate, destiny, in ultimate phase,
with struggle done, ambition attained or not,
one final choice remains, accommodation, surrender, or not,
last time to reconcile, to square things,
last time to go easy, go hard, one last time
to feel the preciousness, the joy, the beauty –
all that will be lost in forgetfulness, in darkness,
in the nothingness that lies beyond.
Setting the Bar
She was a tiny person, under five feet tall,
but strong, unafraid, resourceful, loving,
slow to judge, yet sharp as a knife if need be.
Musician, writer, mother, family center,
magnet for men who always
came up just a little short,
a little too slow, a little too boring.
Hard worker, organized, structured,
voracious reader of both good and bad,
accomplished, skilled, competent,
always doing what had to be done.
And when it was done, when it
came down to the last, to facing the
end, she shone even brighter,
loving to the last second,
sentient to the moment of death,
passing quietly, peacefully,
bravely – setting the bar for
those to follow so high, so very high,
so beyond our lesser reach.