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Thursday, November 24, 2022


by Suzette Bishop

Massasoit Sachem or Ousamequin (c. 1581 – 1661) was the sachem or leader of the Pokanoket sachemship. Massasoit means Great Sachem. It was he who allied his people with the Plymouth colonists. Massasoit had five children, among them daughter Mioneaime later called Amie. Above: Statue of Chief Massasoit by Cyrus Edwin Dallin, 1861-1944 Bronze (posthumous casting) Gift of the James F. Dicke Family, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio

On your deathbed
You tell me and my sister and brothers
To make friends with the white man.
We look at each other,
Unease in our eyes,
But nod.

Why would we do this?
Nothing is the same since
They floated into the horizon,
My gathering of mussels
Not the same,
Brief season of warm sand I loved.

So few of us after the sickness,
Flurries, wind, saltwater,
But I knew who I was,
I knew where I belonged.

Even the ones who saved your life once
Are not friends,
Will not own us if we marry among them,
Have children,
I won’t recognize their children’s children, either,
Not the one writing this poem
Not in our language.

You drift away,
                                And I see us as driftwood carved by wind,
                                                                    Remnants of how we lived.
Enemies to the North
Like the heavy storms descending
And the sickness gave you no choice
But to offer peace, welcome, alliance, land,
Our seed,

And blue-black shells

Discarded, unused,
Their beauty unseen,

 What I see in the future with our friends.

Suzette Bishop has published three poetry books and two chapbooks, including her most recent chapbook, Jaguar’s Book of the Dead. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. She lives with her husband and two cats.