Holly Springs

by Linda Hogan

Holly Springs, Mississippi

One night I walked through the deep cool forest.
The leaves were dry. A mouse ran over them and I thought
how fortunate this time for the mouse
I am not an owl
I was near the home
slept in the home with crystal lights near a fireplace
the home built on the place of my ancestors,
an old shack where slaves in the field were paid
or not paid if they had bought anything
and this was the place where my first ones
were sent from the world they had loved
and known so many centuries
they had become it, then sent
into the hungry place, and this is where they camped
the night before they left their homes.
Out behind the trees
a great light was burning
suddenly and I saw
the fires the men had built before the leaving
they didn’t want. They must have been grieving as the men
went about deciding who would leave our rich lands first,
where to place the children
with their baskets of soft kittens in the wagons,
who would help the infirm, the elders,
as we began that journey to death and new life
if you could call it that
and when I heard the sound of a mouse
running across dry leaves and looked down
the light disappeared, all was gone.
I am not one for many visions.
It is just that they happen in dark forests
and always remain in the shadows of early ancestors
I never knew
but it was real, the old world leaking through
and not what I could ever have known.

LINDA HOGAN is former Writer in Residence for The Chickasaw Nation and Professor Emerita from University of Colorado. Her latest poetry collection is Dark. Sweet.: New & Selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2014). Her numerous books include the novel Mean Spirit, a winner of the Oklahoma Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is the recipient of NEA and Guggenheim fellowships and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas.