Elizabeth Schultz

About Place Journal Volume III Issue I Enlightened Visions June 2014 aboutplacejournal.org Section 1: Earth/Body/Substance
Elizabeth Schultz
 
Haida Eyes
Skidegate Cemetery
T’AANUU, The Haida Watchman
 
 
Haida Eyes
 
All seeing circles,
they peer through
shadows, stare
through seasons.
 
Human eyes devoid
of design, sharing
ovoids with bears,
whales, and owls.
 
In round equanimity
they watch over
extravagances of
potlatch and plague.
 
The poles, somnolent
in moss, the eyes
gaze outward, knotholes
revolving into globes.
 
 
Skidegate Cemetery
 
In Skidegate, death remains
on the main drag. In the backyards
of our old towns, mortuary houses
once cradled cedar boxes, packed
with our bones. Now the cemetery
squats between houses, across the road
from the Cultural Center, near the school.
 
Outside our front doors, Beaver, Eagle,
Orca rise up together, announcing
our entanglements, our crests and ancestors.
Wing to shoulder, they hunker together,
alongside poles topped off with our old chiefs,
each folded back into his fetal envelope,
each nutrient-rich as sea and earth.
 
 
T’AANUU, The Haida Watchman

Carved in attention,
the Haida watchman
waits on the curving shore
between forest and sea.
 
An exclamation point,
he stands among knotted
cedar roots and tangled kelp.
Behind him, the forest’s
dense mesh of thickening
green, before him, the sea’s
snarl of swirling, curling blue.
 
Carved in attention,
the Haida watchman
waits on the curving shore
between forest and sea.
 
He anticipates the noise
of belligerent motors
from the sea before him.
He listens for the drift
of ancestral voices
from the forest behind him.
He has cetacean endurance
and the patience of moss.
 
 
 
Elizabeth Schultz
Having retired from the University of Kansas in 2001, Elizabeth Schultz now balances scholarship on Herman Melville and on the environment with writing essays and poems about the people and places she loves. In addition to two critical works on Melville, two collections of poetry, a book of short stories, and a book of nature essays, her scholarly essays and poetry have been published widely. She has also co-organized an international conference on ecocriticism in Beijing and regularly participates in international ecocriticism conferences.
 

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