As with golf or tennis,
I got started on Greek too late.
Our legendary professor
Peered out from under a green visor
And held that mastery of the rough breathings
Was a key to life.
They said he’d been a croupier,
That he once drove a bus.
The text he chose,
The writings of Lysias, I think,
Had little to recommend them
Beyond a certain intermediate ease.
I’ve forgotten how the rough breathings work.
What has somehow stuck
In memory’s craw
Are lines he must have liked
From a courtroom speech:
The man was in the room,
And the woman was corrupted in time.
after hearing a lecture by Dr. Robert Goodby of Franklin Pierce University
It is our n’dakina, our homeland.
We were the people from the East,
Here long before you came,
With your famous ships,
White chapels, village greens,
Your right to pray as you supposed
And insist that you were right.
You thought we vanished
Except for the names of places.
We were not Gypsies, the dark French
In your demented plan
To cleanse the stock.
Traces of our lives still
Linger in the rocky New England soil
And other places you do not know to look,
We are still here. We never left.
“Abenaki Lament” appeared in a slightly different form inThe Aurorean Spring/Summer 2010