ARKANSAS SENIOR POET LAUREATE
Betty Heidelberger

THE MAN WHO BELONGED TO THE SKULL

Seeing the rise in the ground
the farmer plowed through it.
Looking back, he saw skulls,
shattered remnants of history
raked naked by his plow.
He knew about the Quapaws
who had lived on his land
years before he had laid claim to it.
They were gone now and this was his land.
The rows had to be straight,
not allowing for detours around skulls
that belonged to people in another time.
    As the farmer plowed he wondered
    if those men had a yearning
    to see the earth yield up its harvest.
    In the long hot days of summer,
    did the man who belonged to the skull,
    look up at the sky and long for rain
    to nourish plants, bent down with drought?
    When the rains finally came,
    did he give thanks to his gods
    and make an offering from the best
    of his harvest?
    Did his home fire feel good
    after a long day in the forest
    when the game was too fast
    and he was too slow?
    Did he love the soil because it fed
    his family; the woman he turned to
    for comfort and children he could watch grow
    like the crops that sprang from his fields?
As the farmer plowed his last rows,
he saw another rise.
Remembering the man who belonged to the skull,
he paused, lifted the plow
and left the ground undisturbed.

Betty Heidelberger, 73, of Lexa, an active Arkansas poet, lists herself as a writer and housewife who is still working. Her e-mail address names her bettypoet. She is a frequent poetry-contest winner, including but not limited to our competitions. She gives her sole source of publication credits as being Grandparents Magazine. Her sign is Aquarius.