Thursday, October 2, 2014

"I can't imagine how it felt"

(A poem for children of the Indian Boarding & Residential Schools)

I've never been torn
from my family
I've never had my family
torn away from me
I've never been beaten
for speaking my mother tongue
I've never been stripped
of my culture and my heritage
I've never been forced
to pray to a God I didn't know
I've never had my finest clothes
taken away never to be seen again

I look at my son
my only son
What if he were
taken from me?
What if he cried himself
to sleep every night
because he missed me?
What if he were beaten,
abused, stripped, malnourished,
bathed in kerosene, overworked,
punished for speaking English,
forced to adopt a different religion,
and taught that his people were savages?

What if they tried to kill his spirit
in order to "save" him?

What if I didn't know him
when he came home?
What if he didn't know me
when he came home?

What if he never came home at all?

What if he tried to run away
to return to me?
What if he were caught
and punished severely for it?
What if he died trying to reach me?

How would I handle the heartbreak?
Would I turn to the bottle?

What if he came back
and found me unrecognizable
because of what the pain
had done to me?

What if I couldn't be a parent to him
and he didn't know how to raise
his own kids in the future?
What if he did to his children
what had been done to him at school?
What if the only "parenting" he knew
was the hard abuse he learned there?

God, Creator, Great Spirit,
I can't imagine it

And then, then generations later
when our families began to learn
what had been done to him
what if the people of the country
didn't care and said "get over it"?
What if my son and his children
found the courage to heal
the courage to speak up
but were totally ignored?

God, Creator, Great Spirit,
I can't imagine it

Heal, Yowah, Tsisa,
please heal
Unharden the hearts of
the United States and Canada
and heal the generations
Bring out the truth
Bring out bottled up tears
Bring healing.

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