Arts + Scene » Poetry

Yurok Geography



Before the idea of continental drift,

before there were maps

that depicted this continent,

the Klamath River bisected the world.

Traveling upriver you came to salt water,

downriver, to salt water again.

Every journey from the center

came to the fog at the edge of the earth.

The Spirit Beings told us the Others

lived with them in Across the Ocean Land,

they told us the secret of their coming,

so we were ready.

Ready when they drew lines around us,

we were ready to learn our new geography,

a new spatial concept, demarcation -

one mile on each side of the river.

We anticipated the change, adapted to

township, range, section...

And the Klamath, the Klamath remains.

It still cuts through, splits the heart.

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