Author: Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
Publisher: Salt Publishing (2007)
This volume testifies to the need to protect the remarkable ruins of the Indigenous North American city of Blood Run and the sacred remains she guards there in mounded tombs. The persona poems herein emanate its character embraced in architectural accomplishment designed in accordance with the sun and moon and multitudes of stars above.
"If William Blake were a twenty-first-century American Indian woman, he would be Hedge Coke. Like Blake declaiming against soul-destroying "dark Satanic mills," Hedge Coke calls for us to recognize the sanctity of ancestral land and to protect it, for "no human should dismantle prayer." The specific land of which she speaks is a vast city built on the border of what is now Iowa and South Dakota. Home to as many as 10,000 people, it is now partially obliterated by plows and desecrated by looters. In a series of dramatic monologues, Hedge Coke animates the landscape and, indeed, the cosmos. Corn speaks, and various mounds; the river speaks, and deer and stone. Even the looters speak, as do the skeletons they remove for sale to medical schools. Blood Run is the setting for this long, dramatic sequence of poems, but its subject is really the need to resanctify the world. The poet's voice is oracular, deliberately disturbing and demanding. Hedge Coke's visionary long conclusion, "When the Animals Leave This Place," defines the transformation of Earth that follows disasters and offers a sensuous solace as well as a frightening prediction of what we may face as ecological change accelerates. An impressive book by an important poet."