Esto Perpetua


I found Boise on a map, geothermal.
Found the sage-grouse, white fir, and
realized I knew nothing of America—

Our textbooks had one line on the Apache,
and we were given no words on the Nez Percé.
Sometimes I’d forget Nebraska and Wyoming, entirely.

Yet, I could draw Lincoln’s face from memory,
was offered the language to praise Henry Frick,
touched a pearl hair comb at his neoclassical estate.

Now, I make fables of terraforming, the
sockeye, the canyonlands. I navigate
the Lochsa River and haunt it.

Listen—I know nothing of America.
I am told missionaries brought the
potato. I am taught about varieties of wheat.

Listen—A man placed a string around
my hand, led me to his knowledge
like a conditioned animal.

Do you not understand what they meant
when they said Esto Perpetua?

This has been forever.

Suzanne Grove