Uweyv Nvya

High Falls, 1817*

by Lisa Hodgens

Setting down her basket of hickory nuts,
chestnuts, persimmons, and muscadines,
gathered under an early autumn sun,
a young Tsalagi woman steals time.

She rests her weariness at the river
rock, leans over the clear water, gazing
at silver minnows schooling in shallows.
Stone warming her body, she witnesses

the world’s wild purpose:  white walnuts sprinkling
a green field; two squirrels jostling pine cones
into the river; jagged-edged shards  of ancient
mountains smoothing into river stones.

When a cooling breeze brushes the down on
her neck, she cups her hands in the water
to drink.  Then touching her lips to warm gray rock,
she gives thanks for her moment of peace.

Leaves rustle in the forest canopy,
shadows move easily across the ground,
a wolf slips away from the sacred sight:
a woman embraced by a stone.

* Uweyv Nvya is Cherokee (phonetic) for “river stone”; High Falls is located in what is now northern Alabama.

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