Caroline Johnson

–on visiting Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, Illinois,
along the Mississippi River Valley

I am walking on top of burial mounds.
Layers of skeleton lie below.
They remain hidden, untouched.
They remain secrets to ourselves.

Mussel shells, bits of deer bone
Fish skeleton, stone tools , turkey awls,
Ear spools, fishing nets and weirs,
Hooks made of bone

I am busy digging with my eyeballs,
excavating through the past, through
dreams. Unveiling chiefs and important
goods, little boys who were sacrificed.

Bone fishhooks made of deer and elk
Antler and bone harpoon tips, shellfish
lures to draw fish close to shore for harpooning
Mussel shell jewelry, spoons, pottery patterns, hoes.

I am sifting through dirt.
I am the archeologist of my life.
I search for fractures, shamans,
strength. I search for history,
for the validation of bones.

Long blades of chert
Large, red pipestone beads
Large calcite bead

I am digging, digging for my past. Excavating
nightmares, hallelujahs, snores, touches, kisses.
Examining the remains that are left. Piecing
together the puzzle of ancient life.

Large shell fishhook
3 small copper fishhooks
Rolled sheet copper bead
Folsom, Scrapers, Knives

We are the new nomads, replacing
ancient men who crossed Siberia.
Instead of canoes, we build hybrids,
spear Big Macs, genetically alter grain.

Birdman tablet
grinding stones
nutting stones
chert hoe.

But where will we be 3,000 years
from now? Someone will dig up
Yaskers Farm, circa 1969. What
will they find in an empty field?

Sound amps. Tie-dye T-shirts.
Hits of acid. Strands of long hair.
Butts of joints. Beer cans.

We are stardust, billions
of years old, carbon-dated.
We are fossilized bones. Who
will save our garden of gold?

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