So many years, call it a “Trail of Tears,”
but not the long walk of the Cherokee
ferried from forests, chestnuts in their ears,
to the High Plains where solidarity
with the First Nations carries me to this day.
Rain-soaked the trail. Their moccasins were clay
ruined by rainfall on the Natchez trace
to Oklahoma, bound forever west,
deeply despised by an oncoming race
who drank no milk from the All-Mother’s breast.
In Their Footsteps
They grew corn, watering every seedling
from a bladder sewn from buffalo stomach.
I watched them from a secret willow hummock,
a side hill. Call me the wildling weedling.
They were the Ancient Ones. When I was young
as grass springing from the Dakota plains
thirsting for mercy when it seldom rains,
I secretly feasted on bison tongue.