welikia

I see you
superimposed on
the landscape,
melting in
to the shadows of buildings,
sidewalks, trunks of trees–

woodfern
sweetpepper bush cherry
maple oak
panicgrass
fleabane hornbeam chestnut
marsh blue violet–

I float on
streams to the river–
pickerel perch
otter duck–

climb paths up forested hills–
bear fox rabbit deer–

My Lady
of Mannahatta–
swallowtail
buckeye spring
azure monarch
–you gather
me windwhispering

on hawkwings–
full green animate,
this island

return me
to the timeless before, when
land was shared, not owned

Welikia means “my good home” in the Lenape language. The Lenape tribe were the original inhabitants of Manhattan and the surrounding lands. Their main village was where Yonkers is now; they had temporary structures on the island of Mannahatta for use in hunting, fishing, and gathering.

The Welikia Project is an interactive map of New York City, where you can find out about the biodiversity and landscape of the island in 1609, before it was developed by Europeans. The idea that the Dutch “bought” the island was not one shared by the native peoples they then forced to leave the land.

Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt is “to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live.”

25 thoughts on “welikia

    1. Yes, they occupied all of New Jersey and part of Pennsylvania and Delaware too. They were rootless for quite awhile, ending up in Oklahoma.

      I can’t say I dream specifically of her, but occasionally when I find myself alone somewhere in Central Park, it does feel a bit like time and space are overlapping, that I’ve been transported back. How beautiful the island must have been then.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an amazing project. There was once a stream right where I’m living now. I wonder why cities can’t be built around the natural world rather than over it. OK, I know the answer…money.

      Like

  1. I’m nearly done with re-reading The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s an alternative history where the plague wiped out almost all of Europe – so Europeans never colonized the rest of the world, and the people of this landmass carried forward in a far different manner. this poem resonates of that ~

    Liked by 1 person

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