Sunday, April 26, 2009
Sarah Mitchell Sonnet
I don't know why I always turn to sonnets when I think of writing in forms. The sonnet is entirely unnatural to me. It counters my narrative instinct. Maybe that is why I seek it out. For limits. For balance. Anyway, I have attempted at last the Sarah Mitchell poem. I see now that it will have to be a series, sonnets or no, but here is one offering. Matt's own poem from his March 25th posting inspired me to post one of my own. Reactions to this poem are welcome, since it looks like it might turn into a long term project (if it wasn't already!).
X: In which Potawatomi braves capture Sarah "Sallie" Mitchell, "sister-cousin" to Nancy Hanks
Just as we approached the river, Dan
stopped. Thinking I'd ask if this were the Rockcastle,
I opened my mouth, but he half-spun and ran.
Just like that, the Indians surrounded us until
they formed a knot, became a ganglion, a net.
My mother fell. Run, Sallie. Salleee!
she screamed. Or was it Dan? His hand out,
a shaky bridge across the water. My knees
pushed against my skirts. I hiked them up.
My twelve-year-old body a single pulsing thought:
Run! Thought moved muscle into motion, but
how could I not pause to look toward Mama
where she lay, a heap of skirts. His knife
would take her scalp but slice in two my life.
I'm not sure if that ending is cheesy. I think it might be. The idea I am trying to convey, or rather the image, as I have said before is the one of the blade of the knife separating two eras. I don't think I've been successful, but it's something, and it's on paper (on screen?). Let me know what you think.
P. S. The image is artist Bradley Schmehl's rendering of the capture scene.