Drag the Red

In a seventh grade classroom
a little white girl allows her
wandering mind to slip
onto the desk–
a fat wet sound
her fingers squeeze it absently
her eyes on the windowpane, soft
as fallen snow.

Public-school girl will not
(is not supposed to)
listen or remember teacher talk
“The bloody falls massacre…”
A river clinks with coppermine
Indians called Inuits
stealthy, slit, shot,
the pleasure of killing
a savage
the water runs red with copper
salty blood.

It is a history taught once
to twelve-year-olds turned
Canadians who call us
“Indigenous People”
Imagine us Pocahontasing
far away in time or
across more northern roads in
red places
I am a First Nations woman.

I only live
in history class.

Meanwhile, volunteers drag that
churning river for my bloated body.
I am blue lipped
skin, bubbles
trailing behind an orange raft
my hair waves tendrils of black ink in a
mirthful mud play
I lick the Winnipeg riverbed and
spout water when
Drag the Red Searchers Get
Grim Lesson on Finding, Identifying Bones

They drop hooks and chains into
water into history into news–
recorded as an overdose
all my fingernails were pulled out of
my body
was black and blue.

The cities are not safe for me either
in Canada in 2015, a quarter of
all women murdered
were Indigenous.

I play with the goldeye
it whiskers my cheeks fish kissing
nibbles my watery flesh from bone
leave me to my calcium
and collagen frame
scatter me so
I remain

So that I only die
in history class.

Artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat

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