Indigenous Song for America

Indigenous Song for America

(in response to I, Too, Sing America [Langston Hughes, 1902-1967], a response to I Sing America [Walt Whitman, 1819-1892]).

Am I not also America?

Am I not a dancer on stage?

Am I not the sweetly singing sweetgrass,

The purple glinting oyster, the sage?

Do we not sink our souls in the earth,

in the trunks of that cedar, old growth?

Aren’t the wild growing violets our mirth,

and for us, won’t that same brass bell toll?

Hear the Four Winds dancing my name,

How now, the chanting cedar tree –

Has not the undone one became,

Are we not the babbling brooks and the breeze?

Yes – I too, hear America sing strange

In the leathered weathered wind and the rain

in the echoing blood of the Black Hills

in the genocide calling her name –

I hear America singing –

(sometimes I hear her screaming).

And I sing America, too –

sing a song of sweet celebration

dance a dance to turn blood skies blue

drum drums of reconciliation.

America, once damned and afraid

America – I see what you see –

Now I sing America the Brave

America, the Wild and the Free

So to the unbeliever, believe

& look hard, O frantic skeptic

I too, can chant a reprieve,

I too, sing the body electric.

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