Shannon Hunt is a freelance writer and editor. While at Smith she curated the Poetry Center's first exhibition, "The God-Eyed Tall-Minded Ones: Sylvia Plath and W. H. Auden," based on her work with the Plath Collection in the Mortimer Rare Book Room. Her blank-verse poems center on historical disasters, Celtic mythology, and major league baseball. A native New Englander, Shannon has lived in Galway, Ireland and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and now makes her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
This much is known: when White set sail for home
he left two infants, born at Roanoke
within a nine-day span; one the daughter
of his daughter, first of English blood
brought forth in desperate wilderness. Thrilled by
this sign that God had blessed the settlement,
the governor neglected to describe
another family’s fortune.
Here for you
the story ends; no diary kept records
your Christian name, or sex, or date of birth.
You are, amidst the mystery that cloaks
a colony deprived of closure, one
neglected enigma, for the hours
Virginia had before you proved to be
of greatest consequence: while she emerged
a tiny heroine immortalized
in grade-school history books, a surname’s all
you left behind, obscurity assured
when pale-faced pioneers agreed to send
their leader back to London for supplies,
aware of eyes that watched their missteps through
the trees not sacrificed for firewood.
Perhaps it’s better that, still swaddled tight,
you never heard White’s promise to return.