Salmon Ruins, Abandoned after 1263
By Bruce Parker
January 15, 2023
January 15, 2023
At dawn fifteen warriors rushed in, pitch torches in hand,
crushed heads with clubs of stone,
shot arrows down into sleeping forms.
The few men not out on the hunt
fought hand to hand, but
could not fight the fire and panic.
The women hurried thirty-three children
to safety, to the tower kiva roof,
crowded, crying as
the roof fell into the flames.
Their screams pierced the warriors’ throats
so they grunted with every stroke of the axe.
INTERVIEWER: It must be difficult to maintain scientific objectivity when uncovering such a tragedy.
ARCHAEOLOGIST #1: I have young children of my own. It upset me to find this.
ARCHAEOLOGIST #2: But it didn’t happen that way. We reinvestigated almost a decade later, and found that the bodies lay on top of the kiva roof rather than underneath it, as they would have if they had fallen through.
The remains of twenty-two children and four adults,
scattered in the detritus, commingled, incomplete,
led investigators to conclude
the dead were dead when the fire started.
Prior to leaving, the villagers burned the site
and cremated the remains of their dead.
ARCHAEOLOGIST #1: They lugged twenty-eight bodies to the roof of the kiva?
ARCHAEOLOGIST #2: We don’t really know what happened.
My great-great grandfather, a millionaire by the end of his life,
donated the land for the Catholic cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island,
and built a chapel on it, with mausoleum underneath.
He had his parents disinterred in Ireland and reinterred
in the crypt below the chapel, where he now lies himself,
and my great-grandfather, and my grandfather.
The Hopi did not endorse, nor did they oppose
the research on their ancestors’ bones.
When the scientists were done, they reburied the remains.
Bruce Parker is the author of the chapbook Ramadan in Summer, (Finishing Line Press, 2022). He holds an MA in Secondary Education from the University of New Mexico. His work appears in Triggerfish Critical Review, The Field Guide, Blue Unicorn, Cerasus, (UK) and elsewhere. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is an Associate Editor at Boulevard.