I search for memories of my people,
along the Natchez Trace on a cloudy day,
dreaming past woods lush with redbud
and flowering dogwood,
winding down the parkway from the Tennessee Valley,
through Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana
to the Gulf of Mexico,
past wild turkeys foraging acorns,
a herd of seven deer startling
for the treeline, a rush of
white and black tails flashing.
I walk along trails where people once lived under stars.
Mississippi River boatmen, marauders,
skinny hunters, move out to the new west,
the Missouri country and beyond,
child brides, washerwomen, saloon girls,
children lost on the desert,
young men who wanted to be cowboys,
all follow wagon trails out across the Rockies
and into the snow,
their shoes worn down by hope.
These were my people, every generation moving west,
until they fell nearly into the sea,
Hollywood starlets instead of stars.