Friday, December 22, 2017

the "Chimneys"

Duni’skwalgun’i, the forked antler

the twin pinnacles of rock
shout their story now,

the subtlety of the Smokies gone—
that round blurring of line
from thousands of years of forest
weighing down rock’s story
with countless green tales,

now these upper rocks the native people called Duni’skwalgun’i, 
have lost that gentle softening,
because fire smoldered, erupted, and consumed
their green skin, even some of the gray paint of lichen
that works so hard to gentle rock toward life,

the dirt held on their steep slopes
slips away in every rain now,
the gaunt black rocks shock us,
as if angry, brooding, sullen,

the Cherokee knew a truth
that spoke to them of an earlier time
today’s shapes of mountains dimly remember,

these days the fire-ravaged prominences before us
shout of what is underneath the surface,
the surface that can lull us into forgetting. 

by Henry H. Walker
December 18, ‘17

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