Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pale Rats

They said come to a feast, and we did.
There was not enough, 4 pitiful birds,
so our elders said go bring 5 deer, 
and gather what we could. 90 of us, why would 
they plan so poorly? How could they not know?
These people will starve in the cold season.

These people, they are making wampum.
Stripping the waters for food, they now harvest 
the shell bits and trade it back for the belts
that once displayed the wealth of our elders, 
carried on their persons. The food part
is left to rot on the shore. The waste!

They came in like the tide, wave
after wave, ever eroding the land
and pushing the People back farther
into the second growth after the plague
like pale rats, amazing in their numbers.
Timing could not have been worse for us.

We’ve had enough. We began at Detroit and move 
strongly southeast to the place they called Fort Pitt. 
We were strong and they were, once again, starving. 
Their Chief Ecyyer called parley that summer, and offered gifts 
of two blankets and a small cloth to each of our diplomats
as a sign of goodwill. Another plague came.

During Red Cloud’s war, he found a hat.
Or maybe he took it as coup, that truth is lost.
But the one that remains is he refused to give up
our dignity to the pale rats that pushed us
farther and farther back into the desert,
away from our plains, our land, our home.

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