Monday, 19 September 2016

Relic Environments Trilogy: Book III, Part 1.x

from Book III, Part 1,The Lord of Time, His Curiosity and Galliard

Field Notes
(on Daniel Boone, formally a hunter in the Kentucky Territory)

It was not God’s will
The Long Knife held this country 

It was in blood, and hard days without number

A brutal reminiscence uproots
Heritage displays, the guides
The tourists with their souvenir beads, and sets them
In the fields
Outside the old encampments

The Wyandot slice away the scalps
Waving them in the air, cat-calling
To the others in the fort, Mother
Mother save me

Tickets, please

A world turned from here

On the apple-wood stock the knife-cut words
Boons best fren
29 calibre rifled bore, brass keep and horn inlay
Flint and bone his brother Squire hand-tooled

May, 1769, Daniel is thirty-five

From Carolina, a month walking west
To Red River and the wilderness beyond
Hay-needle in those million-acre mountains
Centuries of trails to the deep woods

Each animal fixed in memory, each salted carcass

In spring
Across the mountains, the others follow

Where is my son

In the clearing near the cane-brake

James Boone is in the clearing, his coarse shirt
Soaked in the arteries’ black blood
James is waiting in the clearing
Slumped in a lap of black blood

His bared skull a glaze the sun catches

A gristle hank of hair
The Indian blade hacked through

Where is my son

The Shawnee come

Against the palisades, English muskets − a diversion

Calloway’s daughters, and Boone’s daughter
Taken fetching water outside the fort

Across his face, Boone drags a war-paint ash
A death-devotion, and tracking
The raiders two days, and late the second day
Finds their camp
Killing all who would stand

The Shawnee remove their dead, fade
Into the hickory woods

Returning through low meadow to the fort
The girls walking ahead, hand in hand
Boone following— at his belt
The tangle of braided scalps

With the English peace, towns replace
The scrag of axe-cut homesteads, the old fort deserted

Rotting down to river silt, a black soil
Where the name of this place was made
Forty years since scalp-takers
Nailed trophies to a tree

Boone dies in the Missouri country
Forgotten in those generations

The dead at Blue Licks, at Chillicothe
Stand with him, and Blackfish, and Clark, and Mantour

The bones of brothers and their wives
The bones of the Six Nations
Scattered in the earth, gathered here in one grave, one

Alien now, a lost time
A brochure of violent seasons
Managed for their market share

Ice cream is sold, cars come and go, where
The peeled corpse swelled yellow in the sun

A world turned through this place

This same horizon, skewered on a spear

Each step you take leads here

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