Forget America by Lisa Panepinto

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

the Indians at fort pitt were given blankets
contaminated with smallpox disease
in the name of peace  wood breeze wash
away the centuries   sacred river let me hide
inside your musk   forget america
worship the mothers instead
dependent on everything & everyone to live
hibernating in the wilderness of my insides
my phoenix heart rain lungs  waiting to walk
in mist pines with marie again   
sunlight danced over the windows
as i talked on the phone with her
she was on her way to help the prisoners
she said irving of canada
is lobbying the government
to try and cut off the tops of the mountains
always got to stay on top of them

developers weaseling their way in
for shale gas exploitation
women standing on granite peaks
hawks seeing
how the source of the river is everywhere
marie has ptsd
says if something happens
we’ll have to grab a kid
and run into the river
that’s in my dna

if the cavalry come
grab a kid and run
into the river for safety  
that’s how women have survived
five hundred years of war
on the mountain she’s praising
god in a chant of gratitude
i love the wind the rain
i love the clouds  the berries
i love  the water  friendship
i love laughter  the sun
i love cotton flowers red fur
soft mosses   i love mountain
thyme purple heather
waterfalls that turn to ice
cliffs in winter  i love
farms with sheep in ancient
curves of mountains
who are the oldest grandmothers
thank you starlight  thank
you wind    thank you branches  
thank you wings   you are my friends
my music   my welcome   

walking with marie
workers become gardeners   
land is returned to Seneca Sioux Iroquois
Lenape Spokane Passamaquoddy Micmac
thanks are given  a giving up occurs  
mass returns of land and waterways
recognizing trespass and apology
respecting Indigenous sovereignty
dams are torn down and sustenance fishing
returned to health    islands covered by floods
revealed again   salmon return to spawn
free of scars  bones of ancestors feed each seed of life   
i drink rain and eat mussels  
laugh and play music  
i travel woods gathering fruits and berries
praising northern lights for guiding me
i wander ridges and barter roots
soothe babies   comfort elderly
hear wrens sing each morning
remembering timeless melodies
marie walks to the tide
keeps sun out of her eyes
guards women and children
under a wide brimmed hat
smiles for the ones she loves
young gods standing on the shore

Photo of Lisa Panepinto

Photo of Lisa Panepinto

Originally from Spokane, Lisa Panepinto is the author of On This Borrowed Bike and Island Dreams and poetry editor for Cabildo Quarterly. Her poems have appeared in The GlassblockPittsburgh City Paper, Red Flag PoetryYes, Poetry and more. Her current focus is on writing, music, and visual art that explores issues of anti-racism and sustainability.