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Pyriform – Poetry by Brenda Yeager

To close out The Bloom’s literary publications for 2022, and to celebrate Lake County, we revisit pear poems that were written by local writers for the annual Kelseyville Pear Festival in September of 2022.

Pyriform
Earth black and red speaking in curves, 
  in juice. The fruit of history hangs
   heavy on the branch. Who walked here, 
    hid beneath the surface, a single reed
      breathing her story into our memory?
        As her people seeped crimson into the lake.
          Who cleared and sowed these acres 
           into longing: seed for the sun, skin
            for its gold, ancestors for their own bones?
            Their lines spreading across corridors of land,
            as the shadows of pear trees. Fruiting sweet joy,
           warm and round in the palm, then dripping
          to the elbow. And who will speak a new name here?
        The sandpaper moment of its flesh on the tongue. 
The bitter seed. For Ni’ka and her own.

From the plaque in northeastern Lake County, California 
marking the California Historical Landmark No. 427:
BLOODY ISLAND BO-NO-PO-TI
ONE FOURTH MILE WEST IS THE ISLAND CALLED BO-NO-PO-TI (OLD ISLAND), NOW BLOODY ISLAND. IT WAS A PLACE FOR NATIVE GATHERINGS UNTIL MAY 15, 1850. ON THAT DATE, A REGIMENT OF THE 1ST DRAGOONS OF THE U.S. CALVARY, COMMANDED BY CAPT. NATHANIEL LYON AND LT. J.W. DAVIDSON MASSACRED NEARLY THE ENTIRE NATIVE POPULATION OF THE ISLAND. MOST WERE WOMEN AND CHILDREN. THIS ACT WAS IN REPRISAL FOR THE KILLING OF ANDREW KELSEY AND CHARLES STONE WHO HAD LONG ENSLAVED, BRUTALIZED AND STARVED INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN THE AREA. THE ISLAND, NOW A HILL SURROUNDED BY RECLAIMED LAND, REMAINS A SACRED TESTAMENT TO THIS SACRIFICE OF INNOCENTS.
One of the few survivors was a 6 year old girl named Ni’ka, later known as Lucy Moore, who hid in the bloodied water and survived by breathing air through a reed. 
— quoted from: https://www.aclunc.org/sites/goldchains/explore/bloody-island.html
Kelseyville, California was named after Andrew Kelsey, whose brutality lies at the inception of this massacre. A movement exists to rename this town, unsuccessful to date.
Brenda Yeager

Brenda Yeager is a poet & writer living on the edge of a canyon in the ancestral lands of the Northern Pomo people in Lake County, California. Each time she looks out her window, she becomes a student of the trees, whose blackened trunks and new green after wildfire demonstrate the truth of impermanence & the nature of our earthly fragility. She tries not to get too doomsday about it all by remembering to breathe. She contributed to Middletown Art Center’s Resilience collection of written word and served as co-editor for their Restore book. Both publications and the workshops that generated them were funded by the California Arts Council. You will find her at her happiest reading her work live and listening to fellow poets share their own. She is currently working on a memoir about true refuge, A Revolution of Petals In the Heart. You can learn more at her website: https://www.brendayeager.com/

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