Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A POEM FROM BOULDER RIDGE, by JAMES GALVIN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A POEM FROM BOULDER RIDGE, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: The skeleton of a teepee stood on boulder ridge
Subject(s): Houses; Native Americans; Indians Of America; American Indians; Indians Of South America

The skeleton of a teepee stood on Boulder Ridge in the winter of 1950. The
first year Lyle wintered on Sheep Creek with his brothers, sister, and mother
was 1937, and the dried elk hides still hung from the lodgepoles like the shirt
of a starved man. A wind was eating his clothes. Rain licked the bones clean.

In the year I was born it fell and was covered by branches. By now it has sunk
into the earth like goose down into snow.

A family of renegade Utes had left the reservation and come home to hunt where
their fathers had taught them hunting. They died in the first winter, but I
still feel them here, perhaps in the wood of an old ponderosa, their faces grown
into pine boles: round-eyed, round-mouthed masks. Lyle's family is here too,
who fell from him one after another.

Lyle's mother was a water witch for arrowheads. She showed the children where
to look, near the petroglyphs on Sand Creek, or at Bull Mountain Spring. We
found a few chips and scrapers, but the perfect points seemed to grow beneath
her fingers as she stooped to pick them up. She peered into them and turned
them over like names.

She said you have to listen to find a good arrowhead. It lies on top of the
gravel and hisses with patience. You must look with eyes like flint. You pick
it up, almost touching the hand that held it last, that gave it flight. You
turn it over in your palm. It is like opening the door to a warm house.
Someone is passing through it as if it were made for him, as if he made it.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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