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What We Did Last Summer
by Ed Bennett

A family trip to Little Big Horn:
my children excited
about generic cowboys and indians
in this bowl of ground

that held the blood
like a crucible,
a chalice of victory
raised by the wrong side

inciting a long blue march
of soldiers and horses
against a painted enemy
until it was ended,

smoke and war,
death as a final solution
for a culture
that was in the way.

I will tell my children
that these are your people, too,
that a fragment of bone and blood
hidden in your heart
felt the wind on the plains,
watched an eagle feather
when it fell burning.

The ranger recites
the yellow haired myth
neglecting the screams
of wounded mounts
or the cry of revenge
better left to the dead.

These are your people, too,
part of the American Dream
in the lurch of history.

The silence is inevitable
when the myths are spent,
drawn out by the trail
of fire and land lust.

These are our people
who raised their voice
at the unstoppable,
created a fading miracle
on the parched grass.

They wait silently
in the shadows of
the promised dream
where all become one
waiting with the poor
and the lost
to inherit the earth.


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