A Poem: ‘Cicero Jack Ponders Relics of the Osage’

I’ve hunted arrowheads deep
in Ozark woods, rummaged lengths
of dry creek beds to swell my
cache of hand-chipped stone, layer
the bottom drawer of the
parlor desk with a litter
of flaked flint and chert. But now,
as a killing drought lowers
water levels, turns the rich
soils of lakes and streams, I read
of scoundrels digging bones, thieves
harvesting relics of the
long dead Osage, and I must
count myself kin to both tribes.
I have plundered precious things,
and beyond my final breath
I and mine will be plundered,
soil of my progeny turned
like the loam beneath the lake.

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C. D. Albin is a native of West Plains, Missouri, and has taught for many years at Missouri State University-West Plains, where he founded Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies. He received the 2017 Missouri Author Award in Fiction for his short-story collection “Hard Toward Home” (Press 53, 2016). More information can be found at his personal website.

This poem originally appeared in Issue 2. Click here to purchase the full issue, or subscribe at alivemag.com/subscribe.
All photos by Attilio D’Agostino.

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