Biologically, there is a difference between maize and corn. There is are different purposes for each crop, but ultimately corn is a more recent descendant–and loved by so many. Meanwhile, maize and even more traditional corns have been forgotten. In visiting my cousin’s white corn field in Western New York a few months back (grown in the tradition and reverence of the Haudenosaunee), I’ve been dwelling on past identities–more so in our present life than generational identity. We change or metamorphosize, but to old friends, to those who have seen us in our best and worst states, our old self can still be seen underneath this thin skin.
People don’t call it maize anymore.
Folks change and so do their names,
They become something cheap and recognizable.
Once you told someone your old life is dead to you
after innocently asked where your name came from.
You said the word, dead, in a shrug,
as if the past didn’t exist anymore, as if you simply misplaced it.
When we choose to forget things we starve it,
desert it into someone else’s empty field,
and leave it for the crows to clean up.
But, no, nothing ever dies.
I found something shivering over there, though, alive but barely,
partly-buried among the stalks of addled husks and tassels.
As I pulled it from the roughage, dismembered and dry heaving,
I recognized that naked, deserted body
as the one I know you know to be.
In my hands, it wept, asking why—
Why did you have to harvest the parts of yourself
that people desired and leave the rest behind?