The edges toothed, the wooden board faces us
bearing two white squares, angular
states, maybe Tennessee,
Nevada. They’re mute, the words
worn away, and where eyes would be,
two nail holes like pupils look out.
Fall hasn’t yet browned the pasture beyond,
where a mound is barely visible.
Ohio is rife with earthworks
the Mound Builders left,
their giant snake effigy
near Chillicothe visible from the air.
The sign’s eyes say blind
Close up the wood grain is linear
but wavers at the hairline,
gradually slopes down and roils
around an empty knot-hole where
a mouth might open: Oh, it says, all ardor
or surprise, worn and shorn
of language’s complexity.
The crooked, stiff vines behind,
four or five, cut anywhichway,
stick out, wiry hairs pulled, quirked: sign
of madness or ravishment
since Oh can go so many ways.
Maybe the pupils aren’t nailheads
but holes invisible bullets riddled
the sign with, as they did
the first people––Shawnee,
small pox, the common cold.
My eyes ache. I can’t look away.
Mary B. Moore
*“Invisible bullets” is scholar Stephen Greenblatt’s metaphor for the common cold’s effects on native Americans.
Mary B. Moore’s poetry books include Dear If, (forthcoming, Orison Books); Flicker (Dogfish Head Prize, 2016); The Book Of Snow (Cleveland State UP, 1997). Chapbooks, both prize winners, are Amanda and the Man Soul (Emrys 2017) and Eating the Light (Sable Books 2016). Recent poems also appear in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Birmingham Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, ekphrastic.net, Nelle, Terrain, Georgia Review, 32 Poems, The Nasty Woman Poet anthology, and more. A retired professor, she lives in Huntington WV.
The Ekphrastic Review
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