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Between the Lines of History Books

by Joy Hewitt Mann

A spider hanging from the  mast
saw the New World in a looking  glass,
saw the monster with its green, hairy  back,
and the red  man
sitting on its  shoulder,
reading the future in his palm --

and the ocean stirred its cauldron  slowly
spells were  cast
educated men measured out the spaces in the  sea
and promised success.

The crew have seen the flames in Columbus'  eyes
fanned brighter as they near  land,
and it is partly because of the  wind
and mostly because she is  virgin
and his loins burn for  her,
and his men feel the tightness of his coiled  fire
and they grow hard and stare into each others  eyes
and think of rape.

At the edge of the sunburnt  ocean
the red man  waits.
His palm, outstretched,
drips blood into the  water.
He has seen his lifeline ripped by the coming  wind;
heard the music of sails shaping his  future.
The green monster trembles below  him.
He sits,
slowly strokes her with a loving hand.