The Indians on Alcatraz

© By Paul Muldoon

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Through time their sharp features
Have softened and blurred,
As if they still inhabited
The middle distances,
As if these people have never
Stopped riding hard

In an opposite direction,
The people of the shattered lances
Who have seemed forever going back.
To have willed this reservation,
It is as if they are decided
To be islanders at heart,

As if this island
Has forever been the destination
Of all those dwindling bands.
After the newspaper and TV reports
I want to be glad that
Young Man Afraid Of His Horses lives

As a brilliant guerrilla fighter,
The weight of his torque
Worn like the moon’s last quarter,
Though only if he believes
As I believed of his fathers,
That they would not attack after dark.

© Paul Muldoon, permissons Faber & Faber Ltd.

Paul Muldoon’s poem is a tribute to the Native Americans on Alcatraz.

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