A Bitter Wind – Poetry by Georgina Marie Guardado

A Bitter Wind


a bitter wind whisks away bodies upon bodies

where do they go?

Girl    Woman    Two-spirit

the remains of 215 children buried in an unmarked grave
at Kamloops Indian Residential School
one appears to be a child who died as young as 3

Chief Casimir says the bodies found so far 
appeared to be buried in separate “unmarked burial sites that are, to our knowledge, also undocumented.”

5,712 cases of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women 
and girls in 2016
2,306 missing Native American women and girls in the U.S. in 2020
the U.S Department of Justice only reports 228 cases in 2021
nearly 60 percent of the cases are homicides
31 percent involve girls 18 and younger

I remember   age 17   young brown girl   walking alone
Highway 29   Pomo reservation
a middle-aged man   his dirty-white pickup truck

I could have been one of the missing

not one woman-identified Native is safe from this
this is no bitter wind
only sharp human action
acerbic, forthright
stealing souls in the night or shamelessly
in the blinding daylight

are their spirits in anyone’s thoughts?

I burn sage and copal
imagine their spirits lifting up in the smoke
settling into the corners of a safe haven

no red violence smeared across their faces
no last breaths taken
Georgina Marie Guardado

Georgina Marie Guardado is the Poet Laureate of Lake County, CA for 2020-2024, the first Mexican-American and youngest to serve in this role, and a Poets Laureate Fellow with The Academy of American Poets. She is the Literary Editor for The Bloom, a contributing writer for Antioch University’s Common Thread News, Interim Executive Director for the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, and Literacy Program Coordinator for the Lake County Library. As part of the Broken Nose Collective, an annual chapbook exchange, she created her first poetry chapbook Finding the Roots of Water in 2018 and her second chapbook Tree Speak in 2019. Her work has appeared in The Bloom, Noyo Review, Poets.org, Humble Pie Magazine, Gulf Coast Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, The Muleskinner Journal, Colossus: Freedom, and is forthcoming in Two Hawks Quarterly. She lives with her rescue dogs Kenya and Micco and her formerly feral cat Mistie, and is currently working on her full-length poetry manuscript, The Length of Trauma Covets.

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