A Final Study of the Anthropologist: Self-Portrait by Corrie Williamson

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.