Friday, December 12, 2008

Among Giants: A Poem


This past weekend, I took a hike down Flagler Trail near the town of Geneva, FL. At the end of the trail close to the river, I came upon some majestic old Live Oak and Baldcypress trees, festooned with mosses. As far as orchids go, I did find a few Dendrophylax (Harrisella) porrectus plants growing in one tree in the area, although I'm sure if they're in one tree, they're in others as well. As I explored the area, getting lost among the trees, I could hear every-now-and-again the cry of Bald Eagles flying overhead.
I ventured close to the edge of the river and saw a historical marker, which said the following:

King Philip (Emaltha) and his son, Wildcat (Coacoochee), together with about 200 Seminoles, had a settlement here, which they felt threatened by the army camp at Lake Monroe in 1836-37. The resulting conflict at the camp on Feb 8, 1837, changed the name of Camp Monroe to Fort Mellon (Sanford). Later names for this Indian settlement were Cook's Ferry, Bridge End, Osceola, and now Osceola Fish Camp. The nearby shell mound was examined by anthropologists Daniel Britton in the 1850's, Jeffries Wyman in the 1860's, and Clarence B. Moore in the 1890's.

A similar plaque at the trailhead also noted the fact that after the attack on Fort Mellon, the Seminoles were driven from the area.

The events and sights of this day inspired the following poem:

Among Giants
by Prem Subrahmanyam

I walked
among the giants today.

Their hoary heads shaking, filled with memories of the ages.
Their long beards trailing through the air.

Their buttressed knees reaching down into the sands of times gone past.

I heard an eagle's cry,

cold and piercing

I heard the branches sigh

in a wind passing down from ages past to years yet uncounted.


I stood
upon the brink and saw the ruin of a nation

only the hills remember their names, etched in blades of snowy white

I wandered
to a time when another stood here as I do now.

He heard the eagle's cry,

wild and free.

He heard the branches sigh

in a wind passing down from ages past to years yet uncounted.


I wandered further

to a time when no one yet had marked this place

wild creatures strange and powerful

laid down in the dust to rise no more

only the hills remember their names, their bones encased in tombs of stone.

They heard the eagle's cry,

strong and new.

They heard the branches sigh

in a wind passing down from ages past to years yet uncounted.


I wandered even further

to a time when I am no more

a shadow that briefly darkened the hills and is remembered no longer.

On that day another stood here as I do now

Did he wander to my time and further back,

regarding those who stood here as he does now?

Did he hear the eagle's cry,

fierce and undaunted?

Did he hear the branches sigh

in a wind passing down from ages past to years yet uncounted?


Their buttressed knees reaching down into the sands of times gone past.

Their long beards trailing through the air.

Their hoary heads shaking, filled with memories of the ages.

Among the giants today

I walked.

© 2008, Prem Subrahmanyam, All rights reserved
.

---Prem
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