THE TREES SPEAK SO PLAINLY AT PIKE ISLAND, AN INTERNMENT CAMP WINTER 1862-1863 FOR DAKOTA WOMEN, CHILDREN AND ELDERS
By Lynette Reini-Grandell
These trees know the chill of Pike Island, its dampness;
they’ve given their galls in memory of people
taken away from their home, their makha,
cut so keenly it must have stung like a knife.
Beneath all the murmured prayers for safe landings
as jet after jet glides over the watery expanse
of two rivers, a mighty confluence
coursing around this small island,
beneath the Mendota Bridge where a vanishing point
on the opposite bank perches hundreds of feet
above islets of scrub trees, I can’t comfort a soul.
I stand on the opposite bank and look
at the flickering water with curious snags,
the wedge-shaped island an arrowpoint.
The trees speak so plainly.
Would I save anyone?
There’s no honest answer. I’ve made terrible
errors in judgment; I’ve done a good job
of saving my own skin. I shiver to read
the messages knotted in each canted branch.
Lynette Reini-Grandell is the author of Approaching the Gate (Holy Cow! Press, 2014), which won the 2015 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for Poetry. Other work has appeared in Alligator Juniper, The Understanding between Foxes and Light, MNArtists.org, Poetry Motel, Revolver, Poetry City U.S.A., and Seminary Ridge Review, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart and received grants for her work from the Finlandia Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Based in Minneapolis, she reads regularly with the Bosso Poetry Company and performs with in jazz/poetry collective Sonoglyph. Her work is often inspired by Finnish folk culture and song, and she frequently collaborates with Nordic Roots artists in multimedia performances. Her second collection of poetry, Wild Verge, will be published by Holy Cow! Press in late April of 2018.