On this flat, derelict shore
I found the stone rudiments of their homes.
Before the birth of Egypt, Sumer, the Indus Valley,
their bones had long
dissolved in the acid soil -
the Lost Red Paint People.
Plowing and harvesting the sea,
they clung to the cruel edges,
the level, rock beaches exposed to gales
from land and water. They must have saluted
Spartan rigor, Odyssean perseverance.
But I'm perplexed to handle their weapons, tools,
artwork, the geometrically precise designs
carved into their chert.
Are these Amerinds the precocious children,
the western rim, of the mythic Atlantic empire?
Far from the spare villages, they raised
megalithic graves at green vistas where mountains
plunge into spuming seas -
their human solace in the world's beauty,
insistence that the soul lives on.
Where the wind scouting a barren coast
and the give and take of tide and shore are the only voices,
their presence is dim as a whisper -
departing ghosts, so old
they are barely here.