Almost every historical atrocity
has a geographically symbolic core.
– National Geographic Magazine, August 2012
Perhaps it is a poor place to begin (amid famously
pendulous breasts, the juxtaposition of the Serengeti’s
tall grasses with the lion’s
porous, illumined flesh that could belong
to ocean’s darkness, or the body’s)
but replacing every historical atrocity with anything
we remember beyond
the moment of its passing, she
begins to see: we seek
our place in the narrative, and so she reads
of the old heroes, whose names were carved
into the unknown: Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Meriwether,
slayers of monsters who sent peace/cedar/live squirrels in cages
back to their cities
and great halls. Everything worth knowing
is a story – but let it be fuller, let it be rich
as a root cellar that jars
the memory of light. She is convinced
the new hero will draw the dark
around him like a cloak.
He will be sedentary. He will love
blue mountains. No one has ever felt the presence of God
all the time: let the beasts
return. Let them speak of what they loved.
Corrie Williamson’s poems have recently appeared or forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, The Journal, Southern Humanities Review, and Shenandoah, which awarded her their 2013 James Boatwright Prize for Poetry. A native of Virginia, she received her MFA from the University of Arkansas and now lives and teaches in Helena, Montana.