Friday, May 20, 2005

Poetry Break: memento mori

As a kid growing up in the Ozarks, I often had Indian mounds pointed out to me by older kinfolk. Generally, people left the mounds undisturbed, assuming that these were graves. I don't know if the mounds really are graves, but I have wondered if the old Ozarkers left them in peace out of religious convictions or a sense of ethnic affinity (many old timers being themselves part Indian).

Anyway, here's a poem that I wrote on this some 20 years ago. It neither scans nor rhymes, but it does play with sounds.

Ozark Indian Mound

Within this mound are dead men's bones.
Once, bound with flesh as you,
They walked the earth they now lie down beneath.
Remove your sandals: this is sacred ground.

Wild poke grows here, deepest green,
Fed by torsos of the dead, watered with their now-cold sweat.
They dream of lives too long ago,
Lives that once they led.

H. J. Hodges, 1985


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