Saturday, August 27, 2005

Poetry Break: "Trail Home"

Trail Home

We left the hills of homeland,
Our faces set for west;
Blue soldiers rode beside us,
Old Hick'ry's truest best.

Behind us passed smoke mountains,
Dark forests, silver streams;
Down lay our dead in silence
To dream lone, bitter dreams.

We lingered by broad waters,
Till winter made them land,
Then crossed that father river—
Child, woman, man, in hand.

We reached the arc-cut mountains:
The soldiers said, "Yur home,"
Then rode away and left us...
Strict orders not to roam.

Some settled in a hollow—
Or drank themselves that way;
Some dove down deep, cold rivers;
Some wept in ash and clay.

Oh, hills hide bitter stories—
This land that now you till—
And stones hold acrid secrets
In ways you never will.

Horace Jeffery Hodges
Copyright 1993

6 Comments:

At 11:14 PM, Blogger Jong-min said...

Wow. I don't comment here a lot, but I must say that this is a very... provocative work, for the lack of a better word.

Every country, it is said, has a chapter of its history that it would rather hide. I suppose this is America's.

 
At 4:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Jong-min. The poem is for the Cherokee, who were marched from their eastern lands in the Smoky Mountains to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas Territory in 1838.

My great-great grandmother, who was a Cherokee, either arrived in Arkansas with the tribe as a small child or -- more likely, since many children died on the way -- was born to survivors of the Trail of Tears.

I can't vouch for the historical accuracy of the poem's details, but that's poetic license . . .

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger Alistair! said...

Very nice Horace, as a fan of the Alvin Maker series this makes a nice counterpoint, and very emotional too.

 
At 7:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Alistair, but call me "Jeffery" . . . or "Jeff."

I wasn't familiar with Alvin Maker, but Google makes us masters of the universe. Now, I know who he is and what he does.

 
At 4:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1991-95 seems to have been a good period for you.

;)
--lollabrats

 
At 4:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Maybe it was, though there was a nearly 9-month period in 1984-85 that was my first burst of poetic activity and resulted in a poetry prize at UC Berkeley.

Jeffery Hodges

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