Early in the morning in my tiny pram on the Saginaw River, I would see them
moving with the fog in complete silence: they were the people of the Great Lakes,
Hurons who slid through without a ripple, and upriver went South on the Saginaw Trail,
just the way we went down to Detroit on the Dixie Highway that followed its path.
Then when I finally got down to Virginia, again early in the morning, we went out
with Mom’s cousin’s boys to raise a pole barn by the Bull Run Creek, and when they
told me to watch out for the copperheads when I wanted to go down by the water
I knew someone was there just behind the screen of brush on the bank looking out,
watching over me.
Later, on the Civil war battlefield once owned by Mom’s ancestors, the rain fell
in steady hiss, and I saw the deer back in the woods and tried to get my granddaughter
to see them, too, but could not direct her gaze to what I saw until we came out
in the clearing where was the rock fenced cemetery and the deer that waited for us.
On the same trip we found our selves on the bank of the Rappahannock and saw
(again) how strategic (I thought) this place on another creek that looked out
to Chesapeake Bay and the ocean, the great grey green Atlantic and the breeze
through the leaves of the trees said a name, Corotoman, the tribe the original immigrant
just had to remove before occupying the land — except, of course they never left.
Until we found ourselves once more where Grandad married the Grandmother
my mother barely knew and who I never met yet there was her grave, sure enough
almost beside the lake, Lake Canandaigua where on a misty morn at the moment
of creation emerge a tribe, the Seneca of the Iroquois Confederacy Nation out of a
water fall, out of a rainbow mist.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Van Looy leads the Labyrinth Creative Movement Workshop, which his Labyrinth titled poems are based on. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.