When Night Fell

When Night Fell
Night fell
On the last ride
At the end of the trail
On those uprooted
Stripped of identity

An image a white man made
Which earned white man’s awards
In a museum of white man ways
A monument to a way that was

(Like a brave on a baseball jersey
Or a redskin on a helmet
That is, a caricature)

Yes, a way now lost
And was never understood
By any
But those who lived it

Still, a way so regrettably lost
But what could have been done?

We taught our children
That their land was needed
Their culture inferior
Their rights abridge-able

Because they are red
And we are white
They are savage
And we are civilized
They are backward
And we are forward

And so we teach them
Even still
In so many ways
And unconscious

While out loud we say
How regrettable it all was
How unfortunate
It was wrong
Mistakes were made

But we do not say,
“Like Stalin’s mistakes”
“Like Mao’s mistakes”
Because these were our mistakes
And we do not see the darkness
In our light of day

In our light, we say of another holocaust
Never again!
While in our darkness this holocaust
Continues, unabated

For we, the privileged
The conquerors
The destroyers
The sky turns round
The sun rises and falls
Days come and go

We teach our children
A fairy tale past
In a fairy tale museum
So they can live their fairy tale lives

For the disenfranchised
For the dispossessed
For them
It remains dark
It remains night

The long night
Of the last ride
At the end of the never-ending trail
Of darkness

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Oklahoma City
Oklahoma, United States of America

Taken during travels, 1997

This is my second response to Jennifer Nichole Wells’ One Word Photo Challenge. The challenge this week is, Night.

My first response was posted this morning: Being of the Night.