Monday, November 30, 2009

Jennifer Luebbers, "after the Lakota"

Jennifer Luebbers

Lakota Sioux, Northern Great Plains, 1860s after the Lakota’s “The Rash Breaks out on Babies Winter” (1844), and the death of the Cheyenne (1849)

The whole country reeked
of rotting flesh. I buried
my children alive

in the ground, poked holes
so they still had air to breathe.
White men brought illness

to us as they brought
death to the buffalo, left
bodies strewn across

the plains. Our people
were once the Great Warrior Tribe.
For food, we followed

herds over the land.
Our men killed the buffalo
for us to butcher.

We dried the meat, saved
twenty hides and sewed homes. Once,
our people starving,

a woman in white
appeared in the sky and told
us You are daughters

of the mother earth.
The work of your hands is great
as that of the hands

of warriors. Your hands
will keep your people alive.
Then, buffalo herds

filled the horizon
and she vanished and we ate.
The white women wore

aprons starched to blank
cloth. They gave us beef and flour,
cooking stoves. They gave

us their one white God
because they feared us; they
feared us because they

knew they spent their days
as we did: within fences,
feeding mouths, sweeping

from them the knowledge
that no God, only the work
of hands would save them

Jennifer Luebbers recently graduated from Denison University, with a B.A. in English Writing. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she works as a fashion writer for ModCloth, Inc. She has had poetry published in The Albion Review.

RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture, http://reconfigurations.blogspot.com/, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume Three (2009): Immanence/ Imminence

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