Photo courtesy of Carlisle-www.army.mil
Do Not Waste Words
Like bits of lead that tear through the flesh
on stolen fields by Sand Creeks or Wounded Knees
words are specific.
From the big rock and flowing waters
as long as the sun shall shine
you will live the ways you always do
as promised by our written names.*
A scrap of paper dishonoured
by men clothed in buttoned suits
shedding promises like snakes
Backs sway like falling timber
as they drift away
Treaty words in pockets
the tonic of stolen land
We wither in ‘homes’ without heat
in ‘homes’ without running water
in ‘homes’ without electricity
in rooms coated with weary bodies.
bleed to silence
as quickly as our children
are lowered into the earth.
*Variations of these words are found in many North American Treaty documents. For example, it is written in the 1794 Mi’kmaq Treaty, “Henchforth I will provide for you, and for the future generations as long as the Sun rises and rivers flow.” We are not the Savages (p189).