Reconnaissance by Wendi White At times I glimpse their shadows shifting between the trees shorn of leaves. Befeathered, bemused, they wait and watch. Four hundred years later in the half light of solstice, they waver on the shores of the James, the Layfayette, the Elizabeth to see if tassantassas* still squat upon the land, if the intruders have enough corn to last one more winter, if they will survive until the dogwoods sugar the forest with drifts of white and pink once more. Chickahominy, Nansemond, Mattaponi, Keoghattan, ghosts conquered but not cowed by the coal trains that carve their fields, cars that clog rude highways, landfills that disgorge TVs into the tidewater. At each new moon, ever-present though erased, the rivers rise higher and manicured lawns erode by inches while perfectly pruned boxwoods shrivel at the touch of creeping brine. Waterfront property plummets while Virginia’s gentlemen pour their last round of fine whiskey only plunder could afford. The scouts appraise the strangers’ waning strength. They report to Powhattan whose imperial dreams lacked the English King's scope, but nonetheless were granted some acreage in history. “Be patient, Great Chief. Here the strangers first made land but here they sink in the mudflats; they fall back to the sea.” *Tassantassas- Algonquian word for stranger used to describe the Jamestown settlers
Wendi White is a poet and provocateur currently musing among the herons and egrets of Coastal Virginia’s tidewater region. She recently earned her MFA from Old Dominion University and her day job has her mentoring students at ODU’s Women’s Center. At home she keeps one husband, two sons, a garden where the tomatoes abound every other year, and too many books to count.