from A Memory of Iron Age New England

Quechee Man

Alders, their roots' snarl in marshy soil.
Furtive roads, all summer dust, past
still ponds—a miniature vista
   of open water.
Dry scattered archipelago. Sprung deer.
A heron sculls laboring through air.

   Low ring of encircling hills.
The bog (vegetable matter primarily)
   slowly turning into coal.

         I was there.
Wasted, fetal, tannin-soaked
to purple leather, adorned
         with twisted gold.

Anointed necrodaedalist, envoy
   to the dead, practitioner
of missiology among the discarnate.

Now I sulk in the musée,
a noble geek,

lumined by science and millennia;
   skull fractured,
right arm severed by the peatcutter's
   shovel blade. Flesh
rubbed to a gleam by curatorial beeswax.

Concerning its Settlers

It assumes not the degraded title of Epic, and the question,
therefore, is not whether the story is formed upon the rules
of Aristotle, but whether it be adapted to the purposes of
                —Robert Southey, Madoc, Preface

Scarred fingers. Willingness to face
   danger for wages.
Unkeeled boats full of artisans, blasphemers.
Mind's imprint limited to craft and malaprop,
the odd navigational rule of thumb.
   (Lodestone, rhumb-line
cartography.) All innocent
   of grammar or syllogism.

   None now remember.
They came to mine and trap. Harvested
   but to dig. Sought—
and to this they were attuned—
concordances between seen rock
   and extractable metals:
The glitter of pyrites in schist
         thrust up.