blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



On Tallasseehatchee Creek

In November 1813, Andrew Jackson sent 1,000 men to destroy the village of Tallasseehatchee, in eastern Alabama, killing nearly 200 of the 300 Creeks living there by burning them in their homes.

Clear till it hits the bend
where we work the village
out of clay, where post-molds graph
the longhouses' outlines in ash

we broke through days ago.
Inside the lines, the ground is smooth
with the fat of those
who burned alive, the man who pulled

himself into the fire, gunshot legs
behind, the woman Crockett said
strung arrows with her feet.
Tomorrow, we should hit the cellars

whose cooked potatoes the soldiers ate
once the ashes cooled,
maybe some cache of bones or greasy tubers,
something to confirm the tale,

but nothing strong enough to keep
the earthmovers from moving in.
In a month, the bank becomes the angle
of Azalea Dogleg, the creek

gives up its name to Hazard
and the town's elusive grammar,
the village captured by the stream
turns under fertilized greens.

Here, where the water darkens, red,
where we sift the earth for sherds,
I wash an arrowhead
into the sun's steel-white gleam,

then sieve fists of rock through my hands
till I finger something strange—
a tiny ball of polished iron,
shot-metal distilled from clay.

When the chief sends me back
for detectors and finer screens,
I thread in quiet the subdivision maze
of streets already named,

Arrowhead Drive, Ember Lane. 

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