FIGHTING BELOW SUGAR BALL BLUFF (From my book “Shapeshifter’s Peace”)

They fought below Sugar Ball,

they died along Fort Eddy.

They perished in the swamps,

along the Merrimack’s sandy shore

and on the autumn fields

and could not be buried.

Their flesh fed the crows.

Even now

when the wind is right

long stilled voices talk to the hearts of those who walk

among the moonlit pines:

“Tell the crows,

the messenger of the spirits,

the gifter of corn,

the giver of life,

to tell the Great Spirit:

‘They were surprised

but were not afraid;

they died in the swamps,

along the Merrimack’s sandy shore

and on the autumn fields

and could not be buried.’

Tell the crows we could not escape them.

the invaders fought and we were both slain:

the spirits of the Mohawk continue to wander

as they cry for the lakes of their home.”

Above the cornfields and river was once a palisade:

was it north; was it south along the bluff?

you gathered your harvest but it was never eaten.

who was there to pray for your spirits?

Do you still wander the swamps at night?

Do your will-o-wisp spirits morph into 393 headlights

as you wander nightly across your former battlefield?

You who fought to preserve your liberty and freedom,

though all would be in vain,

I think of you, Penagok,

your fight was not forgotten

for in the afternoon you went to battle

and at night you did not return.