Massacre at Wounded Knee #2, Fritz Scholder, 1970

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I taste your fear,
bitter on my tongue.

The choking aroma of
linseed constricts my throat,
stifles my guttural sobs,
can’t cough away the thick
blue gunpowder smoke.

Steam rising from your gut,
a cringing crimson gash.
There is so little
left of you now,
a weeping shadow
etched upon the drifts
by your fractured bodies
crawling away
from the hundreds dead,
from the clattering guns,
from the clutching piles
of bodies of warriors, of women
of children, ponies, dogs,
of soldiers caught in crossfire.

Away from blood
sprayed upon snow
at terrible velocity.
The screams, the cries,
the brutal percussion,
all pillowed in
this impasto snow.

I regret I cannot reskin
this place where rifle fire
flayed your jaw, cannot
brush new flesh over
exposed teeth and bone.
I can only deaden your pain
with this anesthetic
blanket of snow.

I hear your muffled cries.
You grope for warmth
and find it
within your lover’s
seeping wounds.

You’ll not have
that warmth for long.
I choke to speak
with such blunt cruelty.

This snow will ease
your suffering.
I’m drawing it
over you, a blanket.
With my brush
I will bury you,
not to forget
but to preserve.

Come spring and thaw
your blood will find
its home within this soil,
run a rivulet into
the icy waters of
the thundering
Wounded Knee,
nourish the first shoots
of prairie grasses.

But now your blood runs slow, it chills
beneath the smoke blue winter sky,
soaks into the wool of your Spirit Dance shirt.

I rest my brush and weep this prayer:
May mercy and the cold
swiftly take your minds.
Clutch yourselves together.
Rest your head upon his belly.
Wait for snow.

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