When the smoky Kansa blew across this bluff
Carrying with it the smell of the Prairies,
My people knew this place:
We had different words for things, natural names
The ones they told us to call them.
We did not own them, we coexisted.
Now, as I walk along the cracked pavements,
Weeds growing up the sides of walls,
Gum cemented to the cement, dog shit in a corner,
I think of the White-man's progression.
A building crumbles, red bricks lay weathered and eroded,
Unable to glint like the polished glass and steel
of the replacement structures.
Not even bothered to repair, remove, replenish;
Just push aside and continue.
The march of progress towards the fall of empire.
The crosswalk TELLS ME I can cross the street,
Yet a car tries to mow me down as I step.
They have become too busy to respect humanity,
It is an inconvenience they would rather not deal with.
From this height you could once see the river,
Perhaps an errant canoe or meandering raft,
Now the great water, the artery of the land,
is a fixture only in the mind --
People point in the direction of buildings and say
"The river is over there" blindly pointing in the wrong direction.
A river of traffic flows by on the interstate below my feet,
Like millions of fish rushing to spawn,
Except they have no true destination,
No place they'd give their life to find.
They City Market is barley open,
Selling local produce from the "Bread Basket" of the world,
Most boxes are stamped with markings from
California, Mexico and Guatemala:
Habnero peppers and avocados, not a kernel of corn.
A broken red brick road leads
To a forgotten lookout post over the river,
Muddy as the first day I saw her:
Thick brown rust color like god
Crumbled all the red bricks into a roaring bucket of water,
Then let loose all its power.
Tree limbs float swiftly by like twigs,
A sand dredger is heaping sediment of the ages upon itself,
Birthed by the River Boat Casino,
Where they pump the life blood of the river around their foundations
And lie a big lie that everyone is willing to believe.
I feel the wind rushing to caress my face,
A hint of the natural swirls up into my nostrils,
The Sound of a blue jay, a cardinal, a hovering hawk,
something with a beak and feathers speaks to me,
But I can't hear or feel a thing.
My body silently slices the surface, birth in reverse.
The water is loud and alive,
And I no longer want to hear my thoughts-
The last of them is a joke:
"Do you have a reservation?"
"Why? Do I look like an Indian?"
I laugh my last water filled lung moment with this world,
A Reservation, yes that is a good one.