New Amsterdam, 1652


Maurice Kenny

Let me tell you a story
Maybe she was hungry.
Maybe her husband was drunk on Dutch liquor.
She had observed time after time,
the Dutch steal pigs from Bowling Green farms.

And there was the tree
standing in the August sun   .   .   .
golden fruit waiting for fingers
waiting for dry lips and teeth
to feed an empty belly,
and her children's bellies:
their pain drew tears,
the urgency demanded retribution.

At Cedar Street and Trinity Place
Hendrick Van Dyck raised his old musket
into position; sight fixed
he shot her dead. A single peach clutched
in her hand, her braided hair
streamed in her own blood,
her face a map of twisting paths   .   .   .
scarlet rivers, etched, stenciled
from her brow as her limp figure
slumped below the tree.

All hell broke loose.
Shinnicock and Delaware
flamed Long Island and New Jersey farms.
The nights were golden and crimson
blood-ripe fruit hanging from the tree.

Today we are denied her name;
the Dutch chose not to record it.
But her dissidence, her act
is remembered and honored
and her hungry children survived
to tell her story -- a single Indian hand
raised into green leaves to fetch life.

© 1988 Maurice Kenny

In Tekonwatonti / Molly Brant, Poems of War, White Pine Press.

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