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Poems by Jennifer Reeser

Selected by Louisiana Poet Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy

Poems by Jennifer Reeser

Photo by Jennifer R. Trotter, Wikimedia Commons

Mound A at Poverty Point.

I met the poems of Jennifer Reeser, then met her, haunted by lessons of Indigenous Louisiana, touched by the strong poetic movements across time. On a few occasions, we performed poems at the State Library or the Louisiana Book Festival. Often, we speak via poems in emails. It is my pleasure to share Jennifer Reeser’s love of humanity in verse, her poetic advocacy for the truth of Louisiana’s Indigenous sacred spaces too long ignored or overlooked.

 

Mound of the Unknown Native

“According to the LSU website, it is likely that ‘6,000 years ago’ people lived in scattered bands of 50 to 200 folks who would converge at the mound site to ‘exchange information, catch up with friends, trade, perform rituals necessary to the maintenance of the group, and maybe, most importantly, choose a mate from outside the band’.”

—Ancient Origins, Are the 11,300-Year-Old LSU Mounds the US Göbekli Tepe? January 2020 

They layered this clay in the earth,

The red and the white and blue-gray –

These monuments, matchless in worth.

They layered this clay in the earth,

On which they would play and give birth,

Turn sand grains to pictures and pray.

They layered this clay in the earth,

The red and the white and blue-gray.

 

 

The Native Blood Within You

(for Max, Poverty Point, Louisiana)

 

You stand upon a structure where – erected

One thousand years before the birth of Christ,

And not so distant as you had expected –

No criminal nor lamb was sacrificed.

 

Undoubtedly, these fossil-whisperers,

The paleologists who excavate,

Have caused the stream of Native blood to stir

Within you, realizing that these great

 

Star-gazers, architects and engineers

Were your progenitors. You understand

This wonder of the Western Hemisphere’s –

Unparalleled in this, or any, land.

 

Allowing clouds to travel, you dismiss

The scalded sky, to focus on this mound,

This prize of your archaic kindred, this

Vast legacy, both open and profound.

 

A residue of spirit will survive

For guardians who honor the remains,

However primitive, their each archive

Impressive as the triumph on these plains.

 

Below the crest, I watch your logic wander,

Attuned to lunar shifts and your Creator.

A mystery exists for you to ponder,

With prehistoric bee and alligator.

 

 

Mound F

   (Poverty Point, Louisiana)

 

Here decades of decaying leaves

cross a gully deep in woods.

The haunted feel of ghostly sheaves

on fallen wooden limbs intrudes,

as though you’re stepping back,

unknowing, through a crack

in Time’s wild doorway, stripped of worldly goods.

 

Beneath its superficial tangles

where doves in pearly feathers mourn,

and honeysuckle creeper strangles

the fronds of palms in crazed profusion,

its buried secrets lie

untouched and gone bone dry,

guarded by poison ivy, ant, and thorn.

 

Jennifer Reeser is a biracial writer born in Lake Charles of mixed European-American and Native American Indian ancestry through both mother and father. Her work has appeared in POETRY, Hudson Review, RATTLE, Louisiana Literature, Louisiana Review, and New Laurel Review, among others. She divides her time between southwest Louisiana and Indian Country, Oklahoma. jenniferreeser.com.