Qualla Boundary
Edward Wilson

                During the Cherokee removal of the 1830s, a                 few escaped capture and fled into the Great                 Smokies, eventually forming the Eastern                 Band that now lives on the Qualla                 Reservation in the valley below.

Owl time, long before Sun
will look into this hollow.

In the lodges, a few
old women tend the hearths
sending pale wisps up to
Sky, losing his stars.

The tribe of dogwoods, all white 
blossom, first to wake, scattered
among old sleeping trees.

All across the river—
their smooth black dancing ground—
the mist people writhe.

Not the only time we’ve lived
like animals, dug roots
to live through winter.

Rutherford burned towns,
corn in the fields, granaries,
tore up the peach trees
by the root. Jackson murdered

a nation with a mark on paper.
Georgians grubbed the body
for gold. Those not dead, lost west.

Still, we live. Pray. Bathe
in water that takes the breath
and pain away, learn from mists

how to dance on ground
always sliding away.

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