Voices on the Wind
Voices of Protest
A sluggish truth
by Mark Vogel
It has been estimated that at least a thousand Indians
were sold into slavery during King Philip’s War,
with over half the slaves coming from Plymouth Colony alone.
Nathaniel Philbrick in Mayflower.
The history of any land layers stories like sediment
for contemporary eyes blinking open or shut,
even when the original actors hid behind words,
until descendants see through fog how desire
channeled expediency, how never admitted
butchery is not new at all. How an oozing saga
could seem real and true, while remaining
mostly very wrong.
Like when the tableau so concrete cannot be denied—
how profit-fueled New England leaders loaded humans
as merchandise to sell, to rid the bloody land of prisoners.
How the stench of evil drifts, revealing how
New World conquerors lived a hundred year pattern
with no noble justification, as the evidence of
slaughter lingered alongside never admitted rape
and murder, the ravages of cruel European disease.
In our contemporary warp we can be convinced
we are enlightened when we watch the documentary
about Indians stumbling into death. When we hint
to third graders that ancestors’ pious pilgrim
presence poisoned the land. We can be twisted
when we still believe the best, and sing
over and over about mythic freedom,
even as we are reluctant to admit how religion
has given permission to wound and defile
even women and children. In the struggle to
reconcile blood-soaked trails and explain
how stories can be beautiful and soiled,
we dance forward and back, fast and slow—
still confused and violent as hell.