Friday, June 5, 2009


Sara Holmes is hosting Poetry Roundup at Read Write Believe this week, so go check it out! I give you this one -- one of the first in the historical women series -- that now needs some renovation. Your thoughts welcome!

How the Sacagawea River Got Its Name

Lewis and Clark chose Sacagawea
because they loved her first
for the rise and rhythm of her voice,
the way words tumbled from her lips
like whitewater over rocks,
how her body would twist and bend,
her hair rushing like snowmelt.

The only woman on the expedition,
she mothered and nursed, guided them
as if they were her cubs, at once
protective and resigned.
They wanted to give her something
more than the Pacific Ocean,
something bigger than the whale
carcass they watched her climb into,
something more permanent than the spears
she carved for them out of bone.

They were grateful for her guidance,
for her patience with words like
aster, anemone, bell.
She understood their need to name things,
never once mocked their belief in maps,
even though she was certain
a piece of paper could not contain
a river, a hill, a grove of pine.

Sacagawea, they whispered,
hands folded as if in prayer.
The river never failed to answer.

- Irene Latham

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