For Unelavnhi, the Great Spirit

Abigail M. Woods

Before god moved into the Americas
Built his white brick house and burned crosses
In our neighbors yards, the Cherokee’s worshipped
Here. The rise and fall of the Appalachians,
The colossal peaks of the Great Smokies,
The plentiful and green gullies and valleys.
There are still bones were my ancestors lay,
Under your plantations and your highways,
Under your malls and your domesticated feet,
Are the flattened mounds of unrestful souls.
In the spring, I imagine you can still hear
Their stomps, their prayers, their turtle shells shaking
From their feet with the beat. The Cherokee’s were
Not meant to be sedentary. I think that’s why
I long for exploration. They had the earth to worship,
To wander, to love. I imagine if I laid down on this
Grassy slope, the trees would stretch their
Roots to my arms, hold my hands as they
Washed me in the thick dirt of the Mother.
This is where I belong – in the light of the day,
Under the same skies my people once followed,
But I will not stay.

From the massive oak trees who’s century old
Roots dig into the ground deeper than the
Stakes of my tent could ever fathom, from
The silver and turquoise fingers that plant
My gardens and beg for them to yield their
Peppers, from the crackle and pop of my kitchen
When there are ten people between me and the
Door. I can hear them
Iyuno unelavnhi wadiyi nasgi nanahwunvgi,
nasgi hawinaditly duyugodv nahnai.

If the creator put it there,
It is in the right place.


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Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems Copyright © 2021 by Abigail M. Woods is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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