FALL 2007


FALL 2007

M.A. Schaffner


A tape of the Delaware language sounds
a false but cuprous tone in limpid air.
The words melt by turns at Wahunsonacook's cloak.

They trickle into pools of meaning:
a drop for 'now' or 'then,' a ruddy stream
flowing past the cases filled with flints

and progressing with the beating chant
that invoke their common mysteries,
the most ordinary of sacred things --

a scraped deerskin lashed with sinew
bearing objects formed from mollusk shells:
thirty-four disks denote the kingdoms

of Tsenacommacah, the known world.
In its center an archer stands, flanked
by a pair of horned familiars.

Nothing is simpler than the throbbing voice,
the closest language left to theirs that died.

MA Schaffner has work in Prairie Schooner, Sheenandoah, Spoon River Poetry Review, Agni, Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, and Rialto (UK), in addition to the collection The Good Opinion of Squirrels (Word Works) and the novel War Boys (Welcome Rain). When not writing poetry, he works as a civil servant in Washington, "spending lunchtimes feeding the lineal descendants of the squirrels fed by Ambrose Bierce a century ago."




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