A Poet's Kiss

Albuquerque poet Mary Oishi puts poems, pictures, and thoughts here for her family and friends, and for lovers of poetry everywhere.

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Ghosts of Penn's Woods


waterways were named after them:
Susquehanna River, Conestoga Creek,
Conewago Creek, Swatara Creek,
creeks so wide they'd be
rivers of legend in the Southwest

soil rich and dark and humus
feeding forests dense with raspberries,
wineberries, teaberries, huckleberries,
strawberries, honeysuckle
sassafras, pawpaws, birch
plenty of fish and pheasants
rabbits and white-tailed deer

well into the Twentieth Century
farmers on the banks of the
Susquehanna plowed up
shoeboxes full of arrowheads
carved by Susquehannocks
abundant proof in an abundant land

after Penn's deed from the king
(to a land that was not his to give)
those who lived easily and peacefully
in Penn's Woods, with Penn's Woods
were themselves massacred
the band of 14 escapees
including 7 children
were housed in the Lancaster jail
for their own safety
but a mob stormed the jail
finished them off

nobody talks seriously about
the Lancaster Massacre:
before this poem it never
had a name

it's all idyllic farms, cows
on green hills
the simple life
shoofly pie

a Lancaster County blog from the
Convention and Visitors Bureau boasts:
    The Fulton House was built
    partially over the foundation of
    the old Lancaster jail...

    It's said you can still hear the screams
    of the Conestogans...

    So next time you're looking for
    a spooky place to visit, head on over
    to the Fulton Opera House!
    Happy Halloween!

wonder if the ghosts
of the original inhabitants
ever sit by the water that
carries their names
that carries their memories
that carries their lives
down to the forgotten sea

two-and-a-half centuries later
it's doubtful they scream.

perhaps they look
    and look...
        and look...
    and quietly sigh

                            -mary oishi


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