Penelope Scambly Schott
In that old language nobody speaks,
a river is rolling its storehouse of stones;
over and over, the river repeats
its own real name, oldest word on the map.
I watch a stranger step out from birchwood
with twin crows riding his shoulders;
from deep in an ice cave under a boulder,
a tall woman and her dog crawl out like a mist.
Now they call to me from across the river
and from so far back, I can never cross over.
In an old language nobody speaks,
how will I talk to my gods?
Penelope Scambly Schott is the author of one novel, four chapbooks, three full-length collections of lyric poetry, and three book-length verse narratives. Her most recent, A is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth, is a verse biography of Anne Hutchinson, Puritan rebel. This book has just been awarded the Oregon Book Award in Poetry. Penelope lives in Portland, Oregon, where she writes, paints, hikes, grades papers, reads science magazines, and spoils her dog and her husband. Although her children are grown, the dog keeps sneaking into her poetry, as do the rivers and mountains of western Oregon. Penelope was raised as a strict atheist and practices her faith by hiking. It has taken her many years to discover that the rocks are alive. "Fugitive Memory" is a 2008 Anderbo Poetry Prize Poem of Distinction.