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On the Banks of the Clinch River

November 20, 2008 by · No comments

Katherine Van Hook Gulley

Photo: Wolfgang Staudt

The long lost earth of centuries,
connects me to each atom,
on the banks of the Clinch River,
where once sweet honeysuckle dripped on my lips,
as I ran naked and free.
I followed the hills where they lead,
and ate of the land what it gave.
I took no more,
no less than life commanded,
and left the blades unfettered,
and left the river unpolluted,
and left the mother earth,
for her next generation.
When sickness came I called the elders,
they lit the pipe and shut the curtain,
they lit the coals and billowed smoke,
and we all waited,
for what was fated,
and I took it like a man.
In battle I was fierce,
peyote on my breath,
a psychedelic Odyssey,
of pain never felt.
A mindful mindless warrior of my kind.
In paint of crimson berries aged,
and raged,
beneath the summer sun,
I charged in skins of those,
respectfully defeated.
To He I gave up my spirit.
I taught my children,
and they theirs,
the ways of our people,
the sound of our nation,
the legacy proud unfaltering,
when pressed against time.
And God in his four winds,
in his boundless galaxy,
saw me,
as I was,
I am,
and shall be.

I am naked on the river,
wind against my back,
sun parting my hair in warmth,
a tomahawk of heat.
And God in his earth felt me,
giving birth,
extracting life,
fulfilling all the promise of the stars,
and granted me,
the eternal existence of dignity.
I feel the beat of my nation,
in my gait,
in my cells,
in my choice,
to follow the indoctrination,
of a rapist,
the pale warrior eating greed,
or to return,
to the banks of the Clinch River,
naked and hopeful,
that what is in me,
will scatter likes the seeds of dandelions,
over coming poison,
to return,
to become,
the banks of the Clinch River.

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