Monday, September 16, 2019

"pale, absorbent fields of paper": A blackboard on Geoffrey Brock's "Family History: Oct. 15, 1848"

The fall semester has started, so it's time for another blackboard. This is from my Contemporary Poetry course this morning. As an introduction to the course, we discussed a poem by Geoffrey Brock from his book Voices Bright Flags, which we will be discussing for the next two weeks.

Family History: Oct. 15, 1848
Geoffrey Brock, Voices Bright Flags, 58

The instruments were various:
the hollow pens that spilled their inks
on pale, absorbent fields of paper;
the notion that land belongs to men;
apologetic rhetoric
("the force of circumstance" and "hard
necessity"); the trade in rum
and viruses; and guns, of course;

and love: in Texas, a decade after
New Echota and the Trail of Tears,
an Alabama Cherokee
with rivers of hair and broken eyes
married a white man. He was disowned;
she fell into the pool of us and drowned.

Note from Voices Bright Flags 99:
The parenthetical quotations (which I found in Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States) are from Sen. Edward Everett's explanation of his decision, in 1836, to vote to ratify the Treaty of New Echota, which authorized the forcible relocation of the Cherokee Nation from the southeast to present-day Oklahoma.

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