V Manifest Destiny (A poem)

by Anita Endrezze Probst 5

Feathers blacken against the sun
rising like the songs of old warriors,
past whitened skies to die.
I tried too hard to stop the cold wind
from blowing across the miles of my cheeks
so death brought summer, fever bright.
Oh, Indian woman, you carried your corn
in small red pots with painted turquoise
rivers, and now the pots are broken
like your ancient bones. With no wings
to flee from me, my memory dreams your spirit face
and I see you sleeping in shallow blue shade.
My mother used to say, Brown Child
of the red sand, wash your feet
with river flowers, climb high
upon the rocks and smile out
the stars. Now as a woman,
I remember a man who said
all Indians are rich
they just don’t know how to save,
except by cans of beer.
And like the buffalo, you took my brown
skin and hung it on the wall.
I am gentle, but angry:
Is this how you white men
mount your trophies. Tomorrow, I see
my son; in his eyes there is more than quiet pain —
now blood-red flames bloom anger
and he has yet to live.

[Anita Endrezze Probst was born in 1952 in Long Beach, Calif. Ms. Probst, an honors graduate of Eastern Washington State College, is half Yaqui Indian and a mix of Austrian, Italian, Swiss, Hungarian, Spanish, and German. Her poems have been published in numerous magazines.]

5 Anita Endrezze Probst, “Manifest Destiny,” Carriers of the Dream Wheel, Ed. Duane Niatum, (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), 163.

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