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The Seeds for Distinction*

By Jessica (Tyner) Mehta

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

                                                   like noble

                                      savages. Conductor raises
                          his baton. March to the beat
              of nettle across neck, Cadenza,
cadenza! We are

             not the removed, we are

                          the Movement—largo
                                      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".

Added: Thursday, June 10, 2021  /  Used with permission.
Jessica (Tyner) Mehta

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

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