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        Standing Rock

        That’s how we match their generosity.
        That’s how we thank them for their kindness.
        That’s how we treat them for embracing us.
        That’s how we break their spirit.
        That’s how we invade their land.
        That’s how we insult their dignity.
        That’s what we have to offer them,
        for offering us their trust.

        The Trail of Tears returns,
        and their river rises. 
        Dreams crystallize in their eyes, once again. 
        They defend the earth, bare handed.
        They recall their ancestors, 
        Thunderbird and buffaloes;
        and a spirit to guide them,
        when the sky turns into an ice patch
        on an autumn night,
        not able to comfort a thousand wounds.

        Smoke rises from grenades.
        Pepper spray is not meant for the eyes
        that haven’t slept in centuries. 
        Their horses cannot be turned around.
        Sacred water, fired from cannons,
        turns into icy feathers, on razor wires;
        nature proudly wears them in its war bonnet,
        and the wind ululates in the canyons.
        The stars were out all night in frost,
        defending the sacred.

                          —Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

@riseupreview 2017         

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is an Indo-American poet, writer and filmmaker. Author of Bare Soul, and three other collections of poems, she won the prestigious “Bihar Rajbhasha Award” given by the government of Bihar, India, for her first poetry collection Chand Ka Paivand (Patch of Moon), before she was twenty one; and the title of “Bihar Shri” (Jewel of Bihar) in 1988. She also received the “Rajiv Gandhi Global Excellence Award” in 2014 for her contributions to literature and cinema, and was nominated for “Honor of Yeast Litteraire” by Levure Litterarie journal in Paris, France. Kalpna’s literary works have been translated into several languages, and widely published in the Indian subcontinent, Middle East, Europe and North America. She is also the creator and editor of Life and Legends literary journal. More about Kalpana Singh-Chitnis at www.kalpnasinghchitnis.com