Untitled; a poem dedicated to the 215 and still counting children lost to residential schools across Canada

Orange shirts stand guard at the gates:
sentries on either side protecting
the children lost to residential school travesty;
the sun-bright orange shines
like a miracle, rooted amidst tragedy.

A sacred fire burns with tobacco offerings —
peace mixes with the perfume of petrichor;
Summer Solstice is here,
but following a sticky-sweet heat wave,
the clouds grieve and the wind rages

for the unmarked graves of children.

(but is this mine to grieve?)

Elsewhere, I imagine drums beckon thunder with the rain,
and ribbon skirts and jingle dresses flash like lightning;
nature grieves in sync
with First Nations peoples —
and of course: this is their land first.

Their cries bring a miraculous movement
across a country; a so-called sovereign land
built on the bones of babies
whose culture and language
was beaten and raped from their bodies.

(but is this mine to grieve?)

This is the tragedy: that it took too-many years
for children’s souls to escape their dirt-prisons;
the miracle is in the sun-bright orange shirts,
the powerful grief of nature: that raging wind
which calls the children home again.

And the sky opens: the lightning flashes, the thunder crashes;
every sound above is a child crying —
a parent, sister, brother, friend… sighing
a breath of hopeful miraculous relief
that their children will finally be free.

(we should all be grieving.)

Children watch fireworks over the Kebesquasheshing River in Chapleau;
Canada Day 2021

© Maxine L. Peseke, June 2021
with special thanks to Megan Moses for supplying her insight, kind corrections, and experience while raising her children to be strong in their culture, and for being such a dear friend.

Published by

Maxine L Peseke

A blogger, writer, freelance editor, and book reviewer. Contact me for beta reading and editing services.

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