To Make Amends

posted November 25, 2020

I am looking for maps on Google
To show me the peoples my peoples
Displaced. Finding their names
Hearing their voices in the Pennacook
The Pocumtuck the Mohawk

But where do I even start?
My ancestors could not be
Contained as I follow each branch
Backward through what I know as
New England, New York, Ohio
This ship and that, until I find small
Towns in England, Holland, towns
That look so pleasant now. Why
Did they leave?

Forward now, trace
The journey, find the Mohican
The Wampanoag, the Naugatuck
Wiped out by violence and plague.

This land was made for you and me?

In the cultural archeological dig,
No white settler has clean hands.
No descendants, either—all of us
Inheritors of blood and filth, carrying the
Shame of the graverobber.

My daughter searches for organizations we can give to:
Women Empowering Women For Indigenous Nations
And other non-profits.

I think of the horses
Who originated in this continent
Migrated to Asia over the ice bridge
At the same time those first humans crossed
Passing the horses in the opposite lane.
Millenia later, the horses returned with the colonists.
That was not an amends, and neither is this.
Just a reminder that the story isn’t over.

Many of my dear friends are writing poems this month, and maybe you are too. We’re part of a longstanding tradition called 30 Poems in November, and we write to raise funds for the work of Center for New Americans, a local non-profit that supports newcomers to this country on the level of goods, services, helpful information, English lessons and more. I have posted several on my blog, and I hope to collect them all for a chapbook for 2021. I would be grateful if you would sponsor me and/or another poet. All funds go directly to Center for New Americans.

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