Princess Angeline

See for more information, including her Lushootseed names.

The prompt at  POETRY IS EVERYTHING for April 2 is “write about an event that is newsworthy or historical.” Lesser known — recommended, and within 100 miles of where you reside, at least 100 years ago. I think my attempt stayed in the parameters.

I’ve been reading Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan, and so it seemed natural to borrow from the riveting first chapter, and Edward Curtis’s amazing picture of Princess Angeline (1820-1886), daughter of Chief Seattle.  I had this very strong sense of Curtis and Angeline as partners, securing each other’s place in history. Perhaps not so far as Western History would have it (and of course Curtis took many great pictures), but Princess Angeline’s position strikes me as the more fascinating one.  So, my one-bad-poem:

Here’s Edward Curtis hunting Princess Angeline
across the Seattle waterfront, one of those sun shot days
when the sun’s yellow is hammered flat
across the anvil of Puget Sound,
a clank of boat rigging, rumble of tugs.

Here’s Princess Angeline slipping through Curtis’s studio door,
uphill, suspicious, though not wary enough
to keep from pressing her face like paper
onto his lens, calligraphy of lines,
no smile, eyes squinting narrow pits.

A puff of smoke, a change of glass plates.
That flash–Edward Curtis inserting himself into the history books.

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