a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
a man was shot in the back by a police officer.
She was white, he black, she was a medic
who didn’t help him, nor did the others who arrived.
For minutes they watched while they could have
saved him but for his skin.
I try to imagine watching a man die
because they fear or hate his darkness
never thinking of theirs
or a human born in the wrong color,
a man who had no weapon, not even words,
the man who began his day like any other day,
saying to his wife, Helene, I’ll be back early today.
I’m taking you out for Mother’s Day.
I love you, babe. She sat under the lamp with her tea,
finishing the hem of their daughter’s jeans
before she left for work. The pictures on the table
of their children, beautiful, smart, loved,
and it scares a father when they are learning to drive.
Does it scare you what she thinks as she stands,
watching the man lose blood and die?
That she might get in trouble? That she won’t?
An Indian woman from the very old days,
but if the police saw me they would think I am white,
even whiter than them. I can pass.
They would save me, not knowing
the dark history in my skin
that lies to them
and how I might be thinking of them with fear
or something worse.
Linda Hogan (Chickasaw Nation) is the author of numerous books in all genres, including Mean Spirit, a Pulitzer finalist, and a new and selected book of poems, Dark. Sweet. Her work has earned lifetime achievement awards, a Native Arts and Culture Foundation Award, a Lannan Fellowship, Guggenheim, and finalist twice for the International Impact Award. Solar Storms may be her most cared about novel, and Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the natural World, the most read book of nonfiction. She has just completed a new book of poetry and is finishing essays on life with animals in a wildlife corridor.