Poem: Halfway Through the Halfway House

Decolonization is not an academic concept

In a single counseling session,                              
They ask you to heal 500 years of genocide,
Assimilation,
Land loss,
Culture loss,
Internalized patriarchy,
Start with your first memory of violence they say,
You are frozen,

Land

The town arrived,
With racists and all,
The colonizers came,
With white Jesus,
Identity cut across the land,
Infliction's on our skin,
We can always feel these wounds,

Housing

Near the factories,
Closed curtains,
We know what is behind them,
Dim lights shine in one corner of the room,
Illuminated behind the curtain,

We have the pain of generations barreling down on us,
Yet no one will listen to us,

Meanwhile the sound of the factories hum,
There are low vibrations felt throughout the land,
Industrialization is a pulse that keeps us awake,

Halfway through the halfway house,
The yellow paint is dusty,
Ashtrays full of empty cigarette butts of sorrow inhaled,
We have to face the emptiness of our addiction,

Meanwhile majority culture goes on without a care of us,
The linoleum flooring is broken and stained in places,
We don’t know what true love is,

You have to “hit bottom,”
Haven’t Native people already hit bottom?
Halfway through the halfway house takes longer,
Still the cuts come from those who don’t want us to be here,

The halfway house is often a spook house,
Filled with the ghosts of our past,
These ghosts are the traumas unresolved,
Appearing and re-appearing,

If you stand halfway in the halfway house,
You’re decolonizing,
This is not a citation in an academic paper,
Please don’t study us,
Please let us heal,

Washing

Halfway through the halfway house,
Blood memory means healing these cuts,
Water can’t rinse the pain enough,
We wash,
We wash,
We wash,

Pouring water to heal,
My eyes fill with tears,
Our ancestor’s tears,
Are they ever enough?

Do you feel the energy between the walls?
The energy between my spirit and yours?
The energy between the damage of patriarchy?
The energy between gender balance in a body?

Halfway through the halfway house,
The house as the body,
The body as the land,

You can sing,
Drum,
Dance,
Will these cuts ever go away?