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To a Cherokee Ancestor

October 28, 2009 

Elizabeth Barrette

She was a strong woman, we know that. We remember
It in our bones. She was a handsome woman: we see it in

Our mirrors and the shifting planes of each other’s faces.
Some warm Tennessee night, she lay down and said Yes

To a fair-skinned man from a foreign land, and rose carrying

Us in the cradle of her hips. True love? Tradition says so.
Not even her name remains to us, lost in the careless spill

Of history. . . we have kept only the echo of my

Grandmother’s stories, the dark wings of my mother’s hair.

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