Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dukkha by Naomi Beth Wakan (for Colten Boushie)


My DNA is crammed
with thousands of years
of persecution and pogroms,
of expulsions and
lives lived in perpetual exile,
so when I hear
of injustice anywhere
(as large as genocide, or
as small as one neighbor
maligning another),
immediately my cells
line up in indignation
and words of protest
overwhelm my mind.
The headline read
“Man Kills Boy”.
No, let me correct that,
“White man kills Indigenous youth.” 
Yes, that’s the trigger,
the trigger that floods
me with images
of Inca-killing Spaniards,
of Leopold’s slaughter in the Congo,
of Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot,
the Armenians, Rwanda, Srebrenica, 

the Kurds, the Isaaqs, the Rohingya, 
and here and there and everywhere
the indigenous people of those lands, 
and for all times and all places
always the Jews, the perpetual Jews . . .


The snapshots pale, and
I am left, once more,
with the stark image
of one white man killing 

one indigenous youth.
An image that may well 

tear a country in shreds. 
And, uncertain what to do, 
I turn to my husband,
who answers my unspoken question
in his usual simple way.
“Life is complex,”
is what he says. 

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