Bare Bones

Posted by on Jun 28, 2012 in Poetry - Musings | 0 comments

Bare Bones

For April ~in loving memory of Chief Homer St. Francis
Bare Bones
©2009 by S. Abena Songbird

in rain, snow
a contemporary Metacomb Alliance
to stop your suburban sprawl
your colonial encroachment…

Let’s get down to the bare bones
the brass tacks of the matter

Disturbed, desecrated
you covered over 2,500 years
San Pablo Creek
hundreds of burials
Muwekma Ohlone relatives
first for a paint factory then
in 2002
for a Bay Street Center shopping mall

Remember year 2000
on the frontlines – Chief April Rushlow
us non-status Abenaki
in rain, snow
a contemporary Metacomb Alliance
to stop your suburban sprawl
your colonial encroachment

Putting her life on the line
deadlocking with bulldozers, caterpillars
while they were driving piles through our bodies
10,000 years, 80,000 burials
on Monument Road in Swanton
and in Highgate

Unearthed skulls,
you once used for doorstoppers, candleholders, dust collectors
small, fragments, arrowheads
a bleached tibia
so frail
the people are sick
the elders are projectile vomiting
the cancers, the fevers

Remember the year 2001
first in April is was Grandmother Keating
then in May it was Stephen Laurent
in July Chief Homer St. Francis
and November, Chief Walter Watso
like a string of red heart beads
gone from us….

And still you dig
private landowners, state governments
those housing condos, those stores, those golf courses
we were not an “ancient village and mission”
we are here – a living cemetery
those are our great-great-great grandparents
over 4,000 strong we are talking about

Our women barren, unable to conceive
forced sterilization
in the 20’s and 30’s – H. Perkin’s agenda of racial cleansing
you labeled us “river rats,” as we followed the river
Gypsy = Indian, “French-Canadian,” “fake Indians,” “wannabees”
“weak,” “alcoholic,” “undesirables”
ripped apart from families, institutionalized in the “poor house”,
and insane asylums

no peaceful sleep
joining over the star bridge

We stay and sift
through our families

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