Untitled by Abigail Echo-Hawk

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.

12 thoughts on “Untitled by Abigail Echo-Hawk

  1. “As we sing” is what I will remember it by, an echo of a possible title, but also the ending. Thank you for this exquisite poem. I hope she got some prize for it, but also now, as a poet, I just wish for her to have the audience it deserves, so thank you for bringing it to us.


  2. Dear Jan: thank you for sharing this poem with us, as we collectively face this horror of misguided zealotry. And may we mourn deeply and listen to the Indigenous song with humility.


  3. Pingback: It’s Time to Sing the Mourning Songs | An Everyday Pilgrim

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