Grinding Stone at Sand Creek
Kiowa County, Colorado
Here’s a stone she called a mano.
Here’s where she wore it flat
grinding corn against rocks
she called metates. Gone the metates.
Gone her wrists of rope and bone beads,
her name, her children’s names,
their dreams. Here’s Pike’s Peak
and its promises of gold.
Gone the treaties. Gone
Chief Black Kettle
Chief White Antelope
Chief Yellow Wolf
Chief Bear Tongue
Gone creekside screams
beyond a tipi’s white flag
and Lincoln’s American Flag,
which they thought meant peace.
Gone the flags. Gone the child
who hid within his mother’s skirt and fell
to howitzers. Gone the howitzers
and the smoke that rose from them
and the mist that clung to prayers.
Gone Colonel John Chivington
and his cause of “Indian extinction,”
gone his clergyman’s collar
and his words to the garrison:
“I want victory, not prisoners.”
Gone boots that stomped the dead,
hands that sliced back scalps.
Gone with the current the water
that washed them clean,
that quenched their thirst
after the first thirst.
Gone the rain that finally came
and scattered flies and crows,
that fell across the smooth skin
of cheekbones stretched
like cornmeal over rock
as it lay drying in the sun.