TP logo

| Books | Music | Events | New work | Contact & ordering

Lay for the Day 29th November

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.

Dawn’s Early Light

Black Kettle watched amazed
who had cried, Come under the flag,
under the flag we’re 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.


John Gibbens
from Makings ’84-’88

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar