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Peter Huggins


Thomas Rolfe on Pocahontas

My mother was a princess,
Daughter of Chief Powhatan,
And Lady Rebecca at court.
I believe King James would have
Married her himself.  She was
That beautiful.  And brave.
She stopped Smith's execution
By placing herself in the axe's
Path and implored her father
To spare Smith's life.
I love that story.  It does
Her justice and if I could dance
As well as she, I'd dance
That story all the time.
Even when she was held hostage
To force peace between Powhatan
And the Virginians, her grace
Pulled her through.
She captivated her captors,
My father included, and fell in love
With him.  Who couldn't love her?
I thought my father would die
With her when she contracted
Smallpox before we left England.
He was never the same.
After I finished my education,
I couldn't remain in England.
Virginia called me home.
Virginia is where I belong.
I see my mother everywhere,
In tree, field and stream.
When I see the tall-masted ships
Put into port, I wonder she didn't
Stay in the forest forever.




Outside the Brewer Art Gallery
Sunflowers bloom.
A gardener tends
The flowers, pulls weeds,

Removes all the dead leaves.
For him the sunflowers
Must be the forest of his ancestors.
He honors them,

He cares for them—sunflower seeds
Become a staple
Of his diet.  While on his knees
He does not see

The bald man who's stopped
Among the sunflowers
To search for something he can't name—
It has no name—

Only a face he tries to paint
Petal by petal
Until petal, stalk and bloom
Are all one thing,

Just as a gardener contemplates
Not one plant alone
But all the plants of his design.
The bald man

Seeks a patron for his work
But finding none
Moves on for he has work to do
And now must do it.



The Swimming Woman

This woman must have fallen
From the sky, yet she makes
Barely a ripple
On Lake Eva as she swims past me.

I look at her again,
Then follow her into the water.
I raise her up and let her stand
On my shoulders.  She turns

Into the white goose I've seen before.
In flight she's graceful and slim.
She spreads herself over me,
Raises me up and shows me

The earth, the sun, the Milky Way
As it stretches across the sky
In a bright undulating silvery band
That rises and falls forever.


Peter Huggins books of poems are Necessary Acts, Blue Angels, and Hard Facts; he is also the author of a picture book, Trosclair and the Alligator, which has appeared on the PBS show Between the Lions, and a novel for younger readers, In the Company of Owls.
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