Karla Linn Merrifield's name came to me this year from three separate and seemingly unrelated sources.
That is when I start paying attention. She will be at Cloudburst this May. Haniel Long's Interlinear to Cabeza de Vaca tells the remarkable tale of Europeans stripped bare of all clothes and even the thoughts of their minds. Hundreds of people from one village guided them to the next where their services as healers were bartered for. The new villagers would repeat the pattern. It was one way to cross the continent.
Karla's poem (below) speaks of a much later time. What was the mission of the U.S. Army Expedition she mentions? Makes me think of trappers and their native wife's. Her second poem On Ice freezes us in her blue veins. The neighborhood ice is all gone here although another freeze is on the way. You find ice tucked under granite shelves in deep hollows, places of limited sunshine and cool air currents. I note Karla has a new book being published The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica.
--- Alan Casline
--- Alan Casline
TWO POEMS FOR CLOUDBURST FROM KARLA LINN MERRIFIELD
58 DAYS, 85 SOLDIERS,
ONE NATIVE GUIDE, ONE WOMAN
My Seminole husband,
your guide, earned a pittance
and I earned
for my crane liver stew,
for mending mosquito netting,
for salves to sooth
sunburn, sawgrass gashes,
and poisonwood rashes,
for sucking cottonmouth venom
from puncture wounds,
when you took my brown womanhood
I, Aw-won-aw Hoke-tee,
who once bent to white men, I say:
No thank you.
Appeared in Barrier Island Review
How did I come to have colorful ice
in my blue veins? Ice turquoise and
cerulean, violet ice, azure ice,
black, white and crystalline ice,
ice bottle-green and milky jade?
Was it slushy frazil ice
or the nilas—thinnest of ice sheets
that too quickly accrue
on a becalmed skin of sea?
The ice speaks in tongues,
slabs, beads, streams—entire
rivers of ice. The ice of Antarctica
bewitches granule by granule
between the pink toes of penguins,
beneath brown bellies of elephant seals.
All creatures do the ice’s bidding.
Karla Linn Merrifield
Karla Linn Merrifield has has nine books to her credit, the newest of which are Lithic Scatter and Other Poems (Mercury Heartlink) and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica (Finishing Line Press). Forthcoming from Salmon Poetry is Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North, and from FootHills Publishing, Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills) She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye (www.centrifugaleye.com), a member of the board of directors of TallGrass Writers Guild, and a member of Just Poets (Rochester, NY) and the New Mexico State Poetry Society. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.