Friday, November 14, 2014

Left Hand Canyon by Linda Hogan

Niwot - Left Hand - came up in my  conversation with Duncan Campbell in Boulder where Left Hand Canyon is last weekend.  For this morning's "Connections", listen here.  For last Sunday's Living Dialogues, listen here.  For a KGNU report on Niwot, see here.


Left hand was one of many peace leaders massacred by the US army at Sand Creek in which Chivington and Governor John Evans made a general Indian war. "To rid us of the roaming Plains Indians," Evans, the leading advocate of war since late 1863, provoked the very 25 year conflict he supposedly sought to avoid.


Yet his words in the wind, on the wind, are spoken below in a fierce poem - about those who take another man's land but cannot long steal his words, about those who swarmed to mine, who killed and drove out animals in the natural world in which the indigenous people lived and yet in the deepest sense, the animals remain - by Linda Hogan (see her Dark.Sweet: New and Selected Poems here).


By Linda Hogan

“Remember what Chief Left Hand said?
Never mind. Everything else
was taken from him
let’s leave his grief alone.”
William Matthews

In the air
which moves the grass
moves the fur of a black horse
his words come back,
the old griefs
carried on the wind.

Left Hand returns to speak,
wind in the blood of those
who will listen.
If his words were taken from him,
I’m giving them back.
These words,
if you listen
they are real.
These words,
a hand has written them.

Everything speaks.
Put your ear to the earth
and hear it, the trees speaking,
mining for minerals.

You can’t take a man’s words.
They are his even as the land
is taken away
where another man
builds his house.

And the night animals,
their yellow eyes
give back the words
while you are sleeping
when all the old animals
come back
from their secret houses
of air.

Linda Hogan, Left Hand Canyon in Red Clay, Poems & Stories (The Greenfield Review Press 1991)

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