CARLOTTA HEAP O’ BIRDS
By Donna Penley
I met my Cherokee Indian Great grandmother the other day,
Although I’ll have to admit, it was in a peculiar way.
I had been down with the flu, an’ sleepin’ most all day
When she came to me. This is what she had to say:
She came to me in a dream. Yes, it had to be,
Because she had been dead long years ere m’ mother birthed me.
“I wanted you to know me, though many moons have spanned our time.
She said, “Your Grandmother Smith was a daughter of mine”.
I gazed up at the woman, straight an’ tall she stood,
Reached out my hand to touch her, but it did no good.
“Who are you, Grandmother?,” I asked her to explain.
She told me again who she was. Then she spoke my name.
“The soldiers drove us all together, through the chill an’ heat an’ cold,
Soldiers of the U.S. Army. An‘, to us they told
Of a promised land that we were walking to.
Later it was known that th’ story was not true.
My health began to falter as many days went by;
An’ soon I realized that I an’ the babe within would die.
Your Grandmother was only two, had been carried most th’ way
I began to tell th’ others about my dying day.
I begged a woman of the Creek, that she would take my child,
And raise her up the best she could, as we walked those many miles.
Then at last I could not go any further down that trail.
Handed my daughter to th’ woman, an’ she began to wail.”
“I died along that Trail of Tears, an’ lie in unmarked grave.
My daughter went on to Oklahoma with th’ woman an’ her brave.
Be proud of your heritage, granddaughter. Be proud that you are free.
Remember me an’ those who died, both Creek an’ Cherokee.”
I woke with a start from my dream, not knowing if it was real,
Until I found the Eagle feather. I laid it down an’ kneeled
And thanked God Almighty that she had come to me,
That at last I knew my Great grandmother, as it was meant to be!
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Donna Penley is a Cowgirl Poet with deep Kansas roots who has been writing cowboy poetry for over twenty five years. She is a real Cowgirl and an ex-barrel racer.