On my way to Judaculla Rock,
Moses Creek and the Tuckasegee River
all run high and swift.
December sun is bright
and the air is out-of-season warm.
I arrive to be astounded by
so extended a collaboration,
so mysterious an origin.
In the valley of Caney Fork Creek,
the sacred boulder sits in peaceful pasture.
Three millennia past,
sculptors carved their bowls
from its quarried soapstone lode,
and Cherokee ancestors,
or was it astronauts from elsewhere,
began to cut their glyphs
into its great flat surface.
The artists of the Rock considered,
what it was they wanted to leave
for future beings to see.
I picture each one contemplating,
patient and careful,
how to imprint their contribution,
each artist pondering
on ways to add to the whole
of such an enduring canvas.
Cherokee legend credits the art
to a gentle giant of long ago
who cherished every single animal;
Judaculla, a slant-eyed being who could leap
from one mountain to another,
a Goliath who controlled the weather,
known to drink whole streams in a gulp.
This story lives beside another,
that of the Cherokee Little People,
who lived below the ground
and farmed gardens above by moonlight.
The Nunnehi lived in nearby Cullowhee,
the name of the town derived
from a Cherokee phrase that translates:
Research to date has not concurred,
either to determine origin,
or to decode the Rock’s designs.
Despite the number of markings—
more than fifteen hundred
carved one by one over centuries—
no conventional depictions,
no bird nor bear, nor moon nor human figure
are evident. Instead
are pictograms that most resemble—
millennia before the microscope—
basic forms of microscopic life.
And, say some, the cup marks (cupules)
which number over a thousand,
correspond precisely to
constellation maps of stars.
In deepcut lines between designs,
some see an unerring map of rivers:
the Oconoluftee, the Tuckaseegee,
the Nantahala and the Little Tennessee.
What if, not one, but all,
the correspondences are true?
What if we are giant striding gods,
and we are little
creatures in a multiverse,
even while we walk the Middle Earth.
Though starscapes are our homelands,
we are made of microscopic life,
and we ride the flowing waters
that vessel and vein all our lands.
Once and long ago, perhaps,
we were friends of Judaculla’s race,
and neighbors to the Nunnehin.
The Rock, with its riddle, whispers,
humans are the Beings between.
Among the great and the small,
I am glad to find my place;
pleased to believe that before I came,
many kinds of beings revered the earth.
Resting like a jewel in the valley
at the placid feet of old peaks,
Judaculla Rock’s become
a living work of mystery,
where tales and art
hold truths as yet unplumbed.
While rivers flood, while forsythia
buds early, out-of-season,
while the temperature of earth keeps rising,
Judaculla Rock sits witness.
Though now we humans pass
through the cauldron of Change,
I leave with quiet in my heart.
For, near Judaculla Rock,
ancestors still sing
in a frequency unperceived.
And artists from everywhere
press on with revelations
regarding who we humans are.
©Susa Silvermarie 2016