Lily of the Mohawks*

July 10, 2013

Lily of the Mohawks by Joe Nolting
2013 Merit Award
By Joe Nolting

               your Algonquian blood flows wild
yet when the white man’s water
splashes cold on your forehead
               it changes everything
even the river’s direction
pulls you from forests, lakes
past your ancestors who stir in their graves
reach out as the current pushes you
farther from the center of your world
               delivers you to the place
where water does not flow
every spoken word is a dry cough
smallpox steals your brother and parents
scars your face, blurs sight
               except for visions of a god
who commands you to sleep on thorns
walk across coals, kneel in snow
embrace each new pain with ecstasy
               ecstasy that eclipses
all but the moment of death
when your scars dissolve, sight returns
you climb into the birch bark vessel
that carries you to the wild, white water.

*Copyright 2013 by Joe Nolting. Placard design by Egress Studio.

2 Responses to “Lily of the Mohawks*”

  1. susanissima Says:

    Wonderful poem, Joe! Love the design of your poster, too.

  2. John Stein Says:

    Carry me…”to the wild, white water.” Thanks Joe.


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