Here, the Mississippi carved its mud-dark path,
a graveyard for skeletons of sunken riverboats.
Here, the river changed its course,
turning away from the city as one turns,
forgetting, from the past— the abandoned bluffs,
land sloping up above the river's bend—
where now the Yazoo fills the Mississippi's empty bed.
Here, the dead stand up in stone, white marble,
on Confederate Avenue.
I stand on ground once hollowed by a web of caves;
they must have seemed like catacombs,
in 1863, to the woman sitting in her parlor,
I can see her listening to shells explode,
writing herself into history,
asking what is to become of all the living things
in this place? This whole city is a grave.
Every spring— Pilgrimage—the living
come to mingle with the dead,
brush against their cold shoulders
in the long hallways, listen all night to their silence
and indifference, relive their dying on the green battlefield.
At the museum, we marvel at their clothes
preserved under glass—so much smaller than our own,
as if those who wore them were only children.
We sleep in their beds, the old mansions
hunkered on the bluffs, draped in
flowers—funereal—a blur of
petals against the river's gray.
The brochure in my room calls
this living history. The brass plate on
the door reads Prissy's Room.
A window frames the river's crawl
toward the Gulf. In my dream,
the ghost of history lies down
beside me, rolls over,
pins me beneath a heavy arm.
Natasha Trethewey's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Pilgrimage by Natasha Trethewey )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
Edgar Albert Guest
(20 August 1881 - 5 August 1959)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Tonight I can write the saddest lines, Pablo Neruda
Poem of the Day
- Combing Interior Forces, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Love Songs of A Bull Frog (Part Three) .., Merton Lee
- Awesome Talent, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Fluid Insturmental Intellect, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Satisfied, Robert Ronnow
- Ones Parents, michael walkerjohn
- Fascinating Images, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Dwelling In Perfection, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- A Line to You, Olufayo Ezekiel
- Remedy to Find, Tirupathi Chandrupatla