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The Hoosier Poems


By Michael L. Smith

Paracas is a barren, wind-swept desert peninsula on the southern Peruvian coast. Abundant in sealife, it was an early site of human settlement. These people left behind burial grounds that contained some of the most breath-taking textiles ever made by humankind, as well as other belongings. The Paracas environment provided excellent conditions to preserve burial fards and offerings to the gods.

As past conquistadors had crossed that desert,
he sought her asking but a modest profit
in their little game. Under them, unconquered,
another age's wealth and its dame persist.

Deep in her grave, secure in what was promised,
a weaver lays bound and held in the measure
of her hand, content with the sheer artifice
of her life, surrounded by tools and treasures:

mantels as bright as a garden, smooth as hair;
a handful of maize; two fish hooks of bird bone;
a painted bowl of gulls dancing on the trades;
a child's clay doll, a carved cane; a wooden comb.

While in these crafty circles of cloth and breath,
we can feel the movement of needle and thread.