Good Friday at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

pine ridge,
i smell your dried blood
blowing with dust and tumbleweed
across prairie hill.
i feel your dried hopes,
like crushed seed,
a gritty sand
in every cup i fill.

old oglala woman,
i taste your hot salt tears
burning slowly
through a thousand wrinkles
down a thousand years.

young sioux brave,
i hear your bitter heart
beating war drums
with broken bottles,
while five thousand angry throats
shout out five thousand drunken cheers,
ten thousand warrior feet
stamp out ten thousand fears.

chief big foot,
i see your straggly band
ghost-dancing
over shallow graves
at wounded knee,
while meadowlark
chant form evergreen:
"shall we be free?"
"shall we be free?"

Mary Joseph Maher, IHM, was coordinator of missions for the IHM Sisters of Monroe, Michigan, for 10 years, working in Africa, Latin America, and on U.S. Native American reservations when this poem appeared.

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