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white river poems 385
Then this, in a paragraph
on the aftermath of the massacre,
a historian detailing the fates of some sub-chiefs:
`... Kaneache was killed
by lightning. Shavano was shot in '86
by a friend. Piah committed suicide in '88.'*
Toward the end, Piah,
going to nothing, wonderingly feeling yourself go
vaporous, at fi rst a little along the edges, Piah, warrior:
not for you
to dwell in a kind of cyst
in somebody else's body politic,
all occasion
for action having vanished
and what's left to you mere activity....
At the end, old self, not
to have grown venerable, not to be an old
implement of the spirit, homely, shiny with use, in a bygone style:
but going to nothing,
Piah, pure Indian, warrior to vapor! Gone! And
the regalia of the self, discarded, torn, broken, scattered
some piece of it
lodged rotting by a stream in the alder roots,
some stained feather stuck among the rubbish after the thaw. Piah.
Who could have said
with a poet I have just read
I too am fl ame, ablaze on the hills of Being.**
*The historian is Sprague.
**The poet is Patrick Kavanaugh.