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Ancestral Amnesia

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Old 12-28-2016, 11:22 PM
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madeline.west (Offline)
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Default Ancestral Amnesia

My great-great grandmother was not in love,
she was just an Indian woman whose
language had been stripped from her tongue.
She had forgotten how to say "lonely" in
Cherokee. So instead she
spoke with her body and when she was
through she went back to her
white husband.

It's whispered about;
the illegitimacy of my existence, how my
line was borne out of betrayal,
the way that my great-great grandmother
hated her blood so much that she
turned on it, spit on it,
roasted it over flames.

Once I dreamed of a man who, in life,
had no idea that I would ever exist, had
no idea that his seed had taken root in
the belly of his enemy.
I wonder if this is why my flesh hates itself.

I saw his face. There my grandmother's eyes sat,
perched above his strong nose like jewels and
her mouth, which she so often uses to
breathe fire, was etched into his visage.
This is the only photo I have of him,
I am lucky that it exists at all.
I stare at it and wonder if we
share anything other than a random
amalgamation of facial features.

I read once, that the Creek and the Cherokee fought.
I wonder if they're still fighting in my blood;
in my mother's blood, my sister's blood.
I wonder if that's why my aunt spilled it,
wonder if she wanted to see all the
fighting going on in her veins;
wonder if that's why sometimes, in the
quiet of the night, my mind turns on
itself, whispers horrible things.

They say he had ten wives,
that he was a great man.
They also say that my great-great grandmother
died denying her own self,
only admitting on her deathbed
who her son's father truly was.

I don't know any of the old stories,
have never seen
spiritual, rhythmic dancing or
heard chants being offered up to the sky.

I look across a valley, and there on the peak
opposite from me, sits my
other self. Her skin is not so white,
her eyes are not so searching.
We stare at each other and nod.
I realize that I have forgotten how to
speak aloud the word "lonely".

M. West
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:49 PM
KBR (Offline)
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Wow. This is so good. The thing about finding a great poem is that wonderful lack of worth that follows. It's like a humility hangover. The night before, you're feasting on your ignorance almost believing you can write a fair phrase every now and then. But it turns out that you are only a weak imitator of something that only now do understand is always out of reach. I'm going to stop reading your poems and take up a healthy habit like drinking.
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Old 01-24-2017, 08:38 AM
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Lovely and the message is very powerful, especially as you didn't try to over use language. One suggestion is to try to end or begin lines, when possible, on a word that carries weight. For example try not to end lines with "to,' 'or," "my" as they are so to speak, not so significant. Hope that helps.
Love me for all my faults
Some run from their phantoms, some can face their's, but the truly courageous wink at their's
Great writing is not simply words on a page, it's a conduit between the writer and the reader's souls.
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