William Stafford

Here you will find the Poem Report To Crazy Horse of poet William Stafford

Report To Crazy Horse

All the Sioux were defeated. Our clan 
got poor, but a few got richer. 
They fought two wars. I did not 
take part. No one remembers your vision 
or even your real name. Now 
the children go to town and like 
loud music. I married a Christian. 

Crazy Horse, it is not fair 
to hide a new vision from you. 
In our schools we are learning 
to take aim when we talk, and we have 
found out our enemies. They shift when 
words do; they even change and hide 
in every person. A teacher here says 
hurt or scorned people are places 
where real enemies hide. He says 
we should not hurt or scorn anyone, 
but help them. And I will tell you 
in a brave way, the way Crazy Horse 
talked: that teacher is right. 

I will tell you a strange thing: 
at the rodeo, close to the grandstand, 
I saw a farm lady scared by a blown 
piece of paper; and at that place 
horses and policemen were no longer 
frightening, but suffering faces were, 
and the hunched-over backs of the old. 

Crazy Horse, tell me if I am right: 
these are the things we thought we were 
doing something about. 

In your life you saw many strange things, 
and I will tell you another: now I salute 
the white man's flag. But when I salute 
I hold my hand alertly on the heartbeat 
and remember all of us and how we depend 
on a steady pulse together. There are those 
who salute because they fear other flags 
or mean to use ours to chase them: 
I must not allow my part of saluting 
to mean this. All of our promises, 
our generous sayings to each other, our 
honorable intentions?those I affirm 
when I salute. At these times it is like 
shutting my eyes and joining a religious 
colony at prayer in the gray dawn 
in the deep aisles of a church. 

Now I have told you about new times. 
Yes, I know others will report 
different things. They have been caught 
by weak ways. I tell you straight 
the way it is now, and it is our way, 
the way we were trying to find. 

The chokecherries along our valley 
still bear a bright fruit. There is good 
pottery clay north of here. I remember 
our old places. When I pass the Musselshell 
I run my hand along those old grooves in the rock.