365: Peace Path

365: Peace Path

365: Peace Path

Peace Path
by Heid E. Erdrich

This path our people walked
one hundred two hundred               endless years
since the tall grass opened for us
and we breathed the incense that sun on prairie
                                                             offers to sky

Peace offering with each breath
each footstep          out of woods
to grasslands plotted with history
removal remediation                         restoration

Peace flag of fringed prairie orchid
green glow within white froth
calling a moth who nightly
seeks the now-rare scent                 invisible to us

invisible history of this place
where our great-grandfather          a boy
beside two priests and 900 warriors
gaze intent in an 1870 photo
                                                            his garments white as orchids

Peace flag                                          white banner with red cross
crowned with thorns                       held by a boy
at the elbow of a priest
beside Ojibwe warriors                    beside Dakota warriors

Peace offered after smoke and dance
and Ojibwe gifts of elaborate beaded garments
thrown back in refusal
by Dakota Warriors                          torn with grief
                                                             since their brother’s murder

This is the path our people ran
through white flags of prairie plants
Ojibwe calling Dakota back
to sign one last and unbroken treaty

Peace offering with each breath
each footstep          out of woods
to grasslands plotted with history
removal remediation                       restoration

Two Dakota     held up as great men
humbled themselves
to an offer of peace
before a long walk south

before our people entered the trail
walking west and north
                                                           where you walk now
where we seek the source

the now-rare scent
invisible as history
history the tall grass opens for us
                                                           Breathe the incense of sun on prairie
                                                           Offer peace to the sky

Used by permission of the poet.