Poetry November 2010

The Discovery

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Clearly the women could not be blamed
for allowing the boys to run as they did
without supervision so far into the wood
or even suppressing for days the news
of their find, so astonished and
unbelieving as they might well have been
and fearing of the effect on the others,
for who could have known that
out in the wild under wooden boards
they might find layer upon layer
of household goods as might be
deposited by people with their dead
and in one bundle of sweet red powder
the bones of a child wrapped in beads
together with another bundle also
with sweet red powder the remains
of a man wrapped in a cassock
such as seamen wear with flesh
still upon the bones and remaining
upon the head such fine yellow hair
as none of our own people has
in this our first year of being in this land
and no one known to precede us.

John Spaulding’s most recent collection is The White Train (2004). He teaches writing at Pima College in Tucson, Arizona.
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