A Thief Of Rest

I once,
as a boy, 
owned a cane 

crowned 
with the ball
from the top of a femur.  

Grew sick inside,
once I was grown,
to learn it was human;

from its age and provenance
was likely taken from
a Native grave 

or perhaps sheared fresh
from one fallen in battle,
massacre, or misadventure, then

turned into a trophy like a necklace 
of dried ears or a tobacco pouch
sewn from a tanned scrotum.

When the cane was stolen 
not long after, I was at first
relieved, then soon enough

unsettled, thinking of how
heads and scalps were stolen
and traded and monetized

in those days of first conquest.
I imagined it in an ignorant hand — 
or worse, in the hand of one

who knew exactly what it was
and traded it for crisp bills 
to another who knew it too.

There are nights I wake
with my hand outstretched
seeking — absolution? redemption?

a chance to bury it
in the earth where it belongs? No.
I fear sometimes

that if it were
to return to me
I would hold it and claim

it had come back to me
because I am the unique
and rightful keeper

of such things,
though I know
in my own bones 

such a thing
to be horrid
and untrue.

How lovely it would be
to lie to the dead
and allow myself to think

I am any less 
a thief of their rest
than any other

who would take it, 
have it, hold it,
keep it as if it were their own.

 

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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