So these were the clues in the dirt
(a very holy mystery): clearly
a reliquary, silk sash with silver
sequins mixed with teeth
and pitted jawbones
Our men were destroyed
with cruel diseases, burning
fevers and by wars—
some departed suddenly
(mere famine); life was hell
A found poem sourced from this NPR article about archaeological discoveries in Jamestown, Virginia. Trying to get my brain focused and writing juices flowing again after our family’s transatlantic move.
Sea whispers to me in my drowning dreams,
and you who balance life and death must know
the debt to pay for treasure stolen thus
from those whose hurts and needs you’d sworn to heal—
blood gold with which you build on burning sand
fool’s fort to keep my heart and gift well-hid.
And if I wished to be their sacrifice?
My people’s fear now spills in hissing waves;
they know the sea god means to take his price.
Just hear! His call to me is calm and deep:
a silent slip into a lover’s arms,
brief storm, then stillness, peace—my part fulfilled.
Thanks to Jane Dougherty for sharing her two-sentence story inspired by this painting, and for inviting me to add this imagining of what happened next.
Remember when we hid in the caves
late dust swirling in red sun and talked
of home, imagined roses blooming
thorn-berries yet green and sour, river
foam-cold? We had the king within reach
but were too fearful—proud—young—to grasp
the hem of his robe. Remember how
the cedars howled with the storm of it
wind rushing like undammed water through
the desert valley heaped with his dead
and ours, and you lay huddled, fevered
by the fire? I went out long before
the cliffs should have echoed new birdsong
to watch the armies march clacking, bone-
white, on and on into morning
Because I did not know what to say to you, I dreamed
of what I wore. I dreamed of scrubbing rust
from the shower walls, of a gallery opening
in this city of locked doors and shuttered windows.
It was black silk chiffon, in case you wondered
just how far this ego’s awkwardness extends.
I was intrigued by this dream symbols prompt at Margo Roby: Wordgathering. Apparently dreaming of clothing means you are concerned with how people perceive you…
pit we ache to cover
with layers of earth, fake flowers—
perfect roses, lingering light
all faces sun-lifted
to joy and warmth