What runs in my blood
is deep love for this land with rolling meadows
& soothing river
It is month of green corn, golden as sun
I remember my mother & grandmother's gnarled hands on soil
seeding and nurturing each corn stalk like precious
bread for tomorrow
I am a grown woman now (14 years old), with a husband
and a new baby
and the most beautiful patch of green corn
I walk back to my small cabin and carry my baby
out in the warm summer sun.
How beautiful he is
suckling my breast as we rest
under the sugar maple tree
I wish him to grow tall and handsome
as his father
I still recall the first time I saw him
Wheat yellow hair
Eyes so blue as the sky
His skin so fair against my earthly color
His words, so strange to my ears
But his tongue, how swift to learn of my tribe's words
As he bartered fur & tobacco with my brother, Cunnawehala
Israel, my husband, would be happy to see the baby now
He had gone after the baby's birth
to speak with Governor and that had been a full moon ago
I miss the chatter of neighbors and
spring bread dance with the arrival of baby
to thank the creator for the abundance of corn
A cluster of swans came into view
preening noisily by the meadow, their wings
immaculate as dancing clouds
River of Swans, I muse
Their cacophony stirs memories of my own family
I long to speak to my grandmother and show her
the beautiful baby and inquire about proper name.
My son will be the first of many blessed children
I will stake our roots
Here, in this isolated meadow
I am learning patience
& price of love
church bells chime
as i step up subway stairs
pedestrians amble like ants
under cherry tree, i inhale
river tides, fearless as budding leaf
Process Notes: The title is from the book I was looking to buy but it is unavailable. This is a short blurb:
She was a Shawnee girl who lived beyond white settlement. She fell in love with a Swedish trader named Israel Friend. Together they built a good life in the place known to the Shawnee as the "River of Swans." Bokavar is the wife of my father's ancestor, Israel Friend (1690-1748).
Posted for D'verse Poets Pub - Poetics - Family HiSTORY - Growing up in the Philippines, I have a very unusual surname, Friend. I already knew my grand father is half-American.
In tracing my father's roots, I read that my ancestor came from Sweden, Nicolas "Nils" Larsson. He came to America in 1648, to trade tobacco and fur with native Indians. The locals liked him and treated him as "blood brother" and called him "Frande" (meaning kinsman in Swedish). Under English rule, his adoptive surname was anglicized to Friend.
Israel Friend, the grandson of Nicolas "Nils" Larsson Friend, was also an Indian fur trader and interpreter, like his father Anders and grandfather Nils. According to the Friend oral tradition, he married the daughter of an Indian Chief, Bokavar. The Friends were Christian (Lutherans) and Bokavar, though a native American, also had an english name, Sarah.
The Israel F. Friend house was built in 1737 and is located near Bakerton,
West Virginia (USA) .The land was a gift to Israel from the Indian Chiefs of the Five
Nations with an addition of a regal grant from the Governor of Virginia.