Arrival (William, aboard the Transport, departed London, July 4, 1635) At dawn our ship tacks into the James River, heads northwest toward James Towne, toward land promised me. The Transport rocks under my feet, the only sound, a steady swoosh as prow pierces sun-glazed ripples. The fertile scent of foliage lining both shores revives me after weeks spent below deck breathing the ship’s stench. A feast of August green feeds my hunger for color after six weeks of blues— sky, sea, night. The King demands gold from these lands. I shall find it on my grant, whether I dig for it or grow it: Maize, its colors hidden in silks and husks, will rise from tilled soil, provide grain for bread, fodder for animals. Grape vines trellised on trees, draped with clusters of purple-tinged amber, will fill hogsheads with claret and port. Tobacco’s emerald fans will turn tan, age to mahogany, deposit gold in my pocket, before leaves disappear in curls of smoke. I yearn for life as a landowner, no longer toiling to fill another’s purse. By sunset, God willing, I’ll feel my land beneath my feet.
Dorothy Baird’s poetry has appeared in journals, anthologies and her chapbook Indelible Ripples (Kelsey Books, 1917). She taught at Western Connecticut University and was Managing Editor of Heat Treating, a journal serving the steel industry. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.