Wasco Woman – Penelope Schott

For a thousand generations
you have knelt on this stone
beside the snow-melt creek.

You were kneeling here before
the green-fringed Euphrates
reflected the towers of Babylon.

You knelt here long before
iron-rimmed wagon wheels
crushed spring onion grass.

You remember how to gather
roots in a woven reed basket.
You are your own ancestor.

You have cupped your hands
to scoop cold water and dipped
your mouth to your hands.

Speak to me out of the water.
Please tell me the real name
for my Fifteen-mile Creek.

At last I am hearing her speak:

We called this stream Nansene.
I used to drink here with Coyote. 

Penelope SchottPenelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her most recent book is NOVEMBER QUILT. This poem is from a manuscript in progress about a small wheat-growing town in central Oregon. She hopes it is also about the world.