From a story of how the tobacco plant came to our people, told to me by my cousin George Coser Jr.
It was way back, before there was a way back
When time threaded earth and sky.
Children were conceived, were born, grew, and walked tall
In what we now call a day.
There must have been two suns, a bright moon, somehow
We had more light than now, sheen
Of falling in love playing about Earth’s body
In a wild flicker which lit
Us up. We who were this planet and yearned for touch.
Every planted thought grew plant
Ladders to the stars, way back, before there was
No way back, Miss Mary Mack.
We used to sing along the buttons of her
Dress. Our babies are always
Our babies. Even back then when time waved through
The corn. We knew our plants like
Relatives. Their stories were our stories, there
Were songs for everything — I
Should say “are” songs for every transformation
They link between way back and
Now, the forever now, a time when a young
Mvskoke man and woman
Walked through the shimmer of the early evening.
They had become as one song.
They lay down when it was dark. I can hear their
Intimate low-voice talking.
How they tease one another with such gut love.
Earth makes a bed, with pillow
Mounds. And it is there as the night insects sing
They conceived their first child. They
Will look back as they walk East toward the sunrise.
The raw stalks of beginning
Will drink the light, root deeply dark into earth.
In the tracks of their loving
The plant-child emerges, first the seed head, then
Leafy, long male body and the white female
Flowers of tobacco, or
Hece, as the people called it when it called
To them. Come here. We were brought
To you from those who love you. We will help you.
And that’s how it began, way
Back, when we knew how to hear the songs of plants
And could sing back, like now
On paper, with marks like bird feet, but where are
Our ears? They have grown to fit
Around earbuds, to hear music made for cold
Cash, like our beloved smoke-
Making threaded with addiction and dead words.
Sing this song back to me, girl.
In the moonlight, tobacco plant had silver
Moon buttons all up her back.
We’re getting dressed to go plant new songs with words.
Our sun is dimming faster.
Mvto hece, mvto hvse, mvto e —
Kanvchaga, mvto ah