by Shawn Keller

 

 

…  flowing out of K-ci-Sebem, through

Nanrantsouak and the fall line at Cushnoc, where stone

cairns from logging-runs mix with islands before Nassouac,

She inscribes this landscape. Gaining speed, she rushes to the neck

of Mirriconeag and into the Gulf of Maine. Beyond the place of herons,

the Aucocisco, to the Sobagwa. Metacomet, the Red King, instigated

his rebellion to keep these names, to drive the white men back to Europe;

 locusts to the ocean. Metacomet became King Philip to the Europeans,

 his rebellion became a war. The frontier burned, erased. Replaced. Rewritten.

 

 

This Sagadahoc, flowing out of Moosehead Lake, through

Norridgewock and the fall line at Augusta where stone cairns

from  logging-runs mix with islands before Merrymeeting Bay,

She inscribes a rewritten landscape. Gaining speed, she rushes

to the neck of Harpswell into the Gulf of Maine. Beyond the place of herons,

Casco Bay, to the Atlantic Ocean; a covetous revision was not enough:

Possessively european, the Sagadahoc became the Kennebec.

 

 

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare famously asked,  knowing

the answer is; Everything: And history remembers Metacomet’s War;

the rebellion of the Red King. His final fight for ownership.

We do. We remember his struggle. But the books will always

call it “King Philip’s War” :

In the record of memory, he couldn’t even own his name

 

 

 


Editor’s Note:

To fully appreciate this particularly poignant account of  historically appropriated identity and colonial  politics, I’d like to invite readers to learn more about, what is broadly considered the first brutal tribal emasculation of the Wampanoag and Narraganset Indians; stripped of their land (Massachusetts and Rhode Island.) and their identity, by British colonists in what became known as, King Philip’s War  between 1675–76.

 


Image credit: http://www.old-maps.com