Memorial Day

I live in a haunted land, where the dead don’t stay buried. Where swamps were drained and forests cleared, scattering the remnant living west into the tall grass, as if woodland and prairie were interchangeable.

As if the living wouldn’t be driven from that new land, too.

What remains here are ghosts of another way to be. Disturbing a peace we’ve never cared to make.

On the four-lane driving home I’m surrounded by pickup trucks, imposing hulks with tinted windows, objects in my mirror that are closer than they appear. The meat inside: guts or brains? asks the famous poem.

Either way, they disturb what peace I have. I’m relieved when they speed around me. Not so relieved that I don’t curse them, of course. Quietly, and without a rude hand gesture. I don’t wish to get shot.

This week is the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. A pivotal event in U.S. history that most of us — myself included — had not heard of until recently. An entire thriving black community burned to the ground by a white mob. The act erased from the archives. Expunged from official memory.

Still, the body remembers. The splinter works itself to the surface.

The body of the land remembers. The dead walk abroad.

The body as memorial. The land as memorial. Guts and brains. Forest and swamp.

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