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Death Undignified, Fort Laramie 1860

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High noon in Fort Laramie, the summer sun is oppressive.
A whalebone corset digs into my body’s tender parts.
Peering from the shop, my hand touching the pane
of dearly brought glass, I feel the vibration of incoming riders.
The pale blue sky disappears in a cloud of dust. 
Children playing hoop, let it drop with an unheard clatter.

Inside Mrs. Dreary’s provisioner, cutlery falls with a clatters.
Outside the store, horses race pell-mell with the oppressive
sound of thunder. “Indians,” children scream, running through the dust.
Folks in buggies, wagons, and on horseback flee for other parts.
“Sioux,” I nod. Gunshots ring through the air savaging the riders.
Mrs. runs up the backstairs carrying the baby. There’s a scream of pain.
Arrow flights buzz by shattering shop window panes.
The Indians leap from horse back to the tile roof raising a clatter.
Mr. Dreary descends, Sharp shooter in hand, and aims at the riders.
A cat’s eye marble falls from the toy display; the scent of fear oppresses.
He slams the door shut as shards of glass scatter, bullet parted.
“Mame, git, Gener’l Connor’ll kill me if y’ur dusted.”

My eyes wide-open owlish are full of tears and dust.
“Damn heathens” Mr. Dreary cusses. Bullets clip the broken pane.
Pulling me behind, opening the useless. “Thop” an arrow parts
his scalp. He falls backward, landing beside me, his spurs clattering.
The baby screams from upstairs. I turn to see Mrs. Dreary’s oppressive
grip on her dead husband. She grabs the Sharp, kills a passing rider.

The arriving soldiers round up the band of native riders.
Mrs. Dreary gets the babe, kicks the fallen marble in the dust
and walks through the door, into another type of oppression.
The soldiers are executing the Sioux braves. Children watch in pain.
Across the street a lone warrior perches. A roof tile clatters
to the dirt. His arrow flies and hits me life begins to part.

Blind with pain I fall forward facedown, numb, parting
the water in the horse trough left for the town’s riders.
My brass buttons and flint arrowhead scrape the tub clattering,
no one in the street notices my departure through the days dust.
My open mouth fills with the rancid, taste of pain.
“How improper,” is my last lucid thought, oppressive.

The clatter of hoofs rocks the trough punctuating my parting.
The oppression of man against man leaves with the riders.
Only dust and the pain of the living remain.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2015

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