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Poetry

Reservations

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We didn’t dance 
much in that small
Minnesota town 
or express too 
many feelings,

our emotions 
and bodies too 
tight to freely 
move, held 
in reservation

like the mighty
Dakota Sioux 
a few miles away,
an endless red 
horizon reduced 
to 2.7 depressed 
square miles.

The human race 
is one body. 
We can’t escape 
the suffering we 
inflict on others 
(even when we 
pretend it doesn’t 
exist).

It wasn’t until 
years after moving 
away that I finally 
learned the truth

about honest Abe 
Lincoln ordering 
the largest public 
execution in 
American history, 
the murder and 
false treaties 
that happened 
in my backyard, 
and the land
and people 
and buffalo
and sacred songs
drying up 

like a puddle 
of tears in 
the sun.

Nobody spoke
about it. Not 
a single word.
And this unresolved
karma lingers 
in our blood 
and bones 
and lakes 
and cornfields,
and will remain
until exposed 
and healed 
by daylight.

It’s no wonder 
we don’t dance.

We’re still 
holding onto
the suppressed 
inhale of our 
grandfathers.

When the energy 
of the land is stuck, 
so are we, 
unable to move 
or move on.

James McCrae