For you, the Unnecessary Dead of the American Dream

You were unburied

10 years before I was born,

pulled from the Arie riverbed

the day Nagasaki burned.

You died like a samurai

in your daughter’s arms,

bowels flowing,

head severed cleanly,

falling to the water

amidst the silence

of dead human trees

with their bark skin turned inside out,

among the screams of the living

realizing that not even water

can stop their burning away.

 

You were unburied

65 years before I was born,

killed by the big guns

with Conestoga wheels in the

ravine near Wounded Knee Creek.

You died running with your nursing infant in your arms trying to touch the flag of truce,

your child still suckling long after

the Great Spirits call—  still suckling

as you were piled in the mounds

of mothers with no ghost shirts.

Others children’s children still

Ghost Dance and tell your lore.

 

You were buried

32 years before I was born,

shot in the back after

you had dug your own grave.

Shot in the back after

you had watched your house

burn in a kerosene blaze.

Shot in the back after

you knew the children

were safe in the swamp.

Shot in the back after

all of Rosewood burned

from the fury of white rage.

Shot in the back

until you were erased

from existence

except in the memory of tears.

 

What am I meant to do?

It’s summer and the

magnolias are blooming,

the cherry blossoms are ripe,

the black hills spruce

admits its forever mildew stink,

reminding harvesters not to

ever make it a Christmas tree.

 

I call out not knowing your names,

giving you invisible ones

that will reflect your death and life.

 

What am I meant to do?

Your unburied ash, spirit,

your buried charred bones

exists in wretched longing,

your names bleed into

the riverbed, the ravine, the clay.

I mourn as I freely travel the spaces

that others had trampled over you.

 

What am I meant to do?