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Anne Schwalbe


The Drumanne schwalbe

The Drum in the high school commons
Every morning at 8:20 a.m.
A heartbeat for this day
The heartbeat of warriors and soldiers
Of eagle feathers and full regalia
The heartbeat of jingle dresses, fancy shawls
and ghost dancers
The blood of brown people, buffalo people
From deep inside the earth and time
A circle, the center of a tribe

Now, the drum sees me:
White, young, idealist.
Unsure if bending my knees
to the beat is appropriate,
but unable to stop myself.
I see students
baggy jeans and hooded sweatshirts
They line the walls
Leaning, not dancing
I count them.
Where are they all?
Why aren’t they all here?
I’m afraid for them. 
Afraid they will not make it through this day
without a heartbeat.                  

Who are you?
The drum asks me,
bending your knees to my beat?
You do not belong here.
My beat cannot refill your bleeding heart.
White skin rejects brown blood.