A Mighty Pulverizing Machine

To each orphaned child—so long as you remain close enough to walk to
your living kin you will dance, feast, feel community in food. This cannot
stand. Eighty acres allotted.
 
To each head of household—so long as you remember your tribal words
for village you will recollect that the grasses still grow and the rivers still
flow. So long as you teach your children these words they will remember
as well. This we cannot allow. One hundred and sixty acres allotted.
 
To each elder unable to till or hunt—so long as your old and injurious habits
sing out over the drum or flicker near the fire you cripple our reward. We
seek to hasten your end. Eighty acres allotted.
 
To each widowed wife—so long as you can make your mark, your land
may be leased. A blessing on your mark when you sign it and walk closer
to your favored white sister. Eighty acres allotted.
 
To each full blood—so long as you have an open hand, we shall fill it with
a broken ploughshare. One hundred and sixty acres allotted.
 
To each half blood, each quarter strain—so long as you yearn for the broken
ploughshare, you will be provided a spade honed to razor in its place.
When every acre of your allotment has been leased or sold, you will turn it
on yourself. From that date begins our real and permanent progress.
 

"A Mighty Pulverizing Machine" from Tributaries by Laura Da’.  Copyright © 2018 by Laura Da’.  Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.
More Poems by Laura Da'