for the Day 29th
In the early morning of this day in 1864, about 700 men under the command
of Colonel John Chivington attacked a large Cheyenne encampment at Sand
Creek, Colorado. When the slaughter was over there were more than 130
Indians dead, the great majority of them women and children.
Black Kettle watched
who had cried, Come under the flag,
under the flag were safe.
The bullets closing in from every side
began to circle slowly
the huddle of mothers and children,
the elderly, the trusting,
then breaking from their ring-dance one by one
fell with small mosquito voices
among the heads and breasts and bellies,
fell as sure of victory
as the Cheyenne had been of amnesty
under the white stars dipping and floating
on midnight blue and the scarlet stripes
snapping on the morning air.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar