Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a multi award-winning writer, artist, and storyteller. As an Aniyunwiya woman and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, space, place, and ancestry in post-colonial "America" inform much of her work. Learn more at her website.
The Seeds for Distinction*
By Jessica (Tyner) MehtaAdded: Thursday, June 10, 2021 / Used with permission.
Conductor drives us, the cow-
catcher barreling straight into the teeth
of Memory’s harshest winter.
Derailed and steam
rolled, Igitsi’s tears trail
to track, past the seeds
sewn into skirt to crack
like a spoon against Colonel’s
crème brûlée. Add salt
to taste. Fold into the earth, let
rise a route of roses—ivory corollas
birthed from all the gold
they couldn’t take. Conduct yourselves
savages. Conductor raises
his baton. March to the beat
of nettle across neck, Cadenza,
cadenza! We are
not the removed, we are
to grave—a whole orchestra
of virtuosos with drumming
chambers keeping cadence.
*Prior to Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, he was a Colonel of the Albemarle County Militia. He was later credited with starting the Trail of Tears. Jefferson dubbed Native Americans “noble savages” and also called for a “need for [Native] extinction.” The various routes taken during the Indian Removal Act, of which my direct ancestors survived, were overseen by white “Conductors.” The women sewed bean pole seeds into the hems of their skirts and dresses, and the Cherokee Rose is said to have sprouted along the trails from the women’s tears.
Listen as Jessica (Tyner) Mehta reads "The Seeds for Distinction".