When they buried the children
What they didn’t know
They were lovingly embraced
By the land
Held and cradled in a mother’s heart
The trees wept for them, with the wind
they sang mourning songs their mothers
didn’t know how to sing
bending branches to touch the earth
around them. The Creator cried for them
the tears falling like rain.
Mother Earth held them
until they could be found.
Now our voices sing the mourning songs
with the trees. the wind. light sacred fire
ensure they are never forgotten as we sing
I could not think of any other poem that speaks more poignantly of this week’s heart-stopping news of the remains of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops B.C. For years we have heard horrific tales of the abuse of indigenous children in these schools, stories that are hard to comprehend. This poem is a different story, one that says to me: pay attention; this is real; remember them; ensure they are never forgotten.
Abigail Echo-Hawk is a Pawnee artist and poet unknown to me until yesterday – thank you Julie for sharing this. So often it requires the tender fierceness of a poet’s voice to speak the unspeakable – Now our voices sing the mourning songs. May we all mourn these children lovingly embraced / by the land / held and cradled in a mother’s heart and their families, as well as the failure of goodness in humanity that led to this. And may we also remember that there are poets who can help us bear this weight by showing us that in the depths of grief, there is also beauty and reverence in the embrace of Mother Earth, a way to honour these lives.