Take a book and pass them back. Turn to
the pencil-line sketches of soldiers, more
gunpoint than reason, a darkness aimed
at a different darkness. It was an odd kind of murder—
the killing of hope, blanketed backs and wagons
diminishing into a ribbon of exiled dots
among the thickening smoke of 1838. Matt, stop
drawing on school property. Memorize the map, Class,
all eight inches of hashed texture—one for every
hundred miles of terrain, pocked by makeshift graves—
and the legend, with its color-coded routes: dark-blue
broken lines of sorrow hurried along water. Tanya,
this note says your father waits for you in the office.
Bye-bye. Before recess, write down statistics for mothers
marching on under the weight of dead newborns
in their arms. Fill in bar graphs for the elderly
slumped beside the way—this, the morbid geometry
of their torsos, folded by dysentery.
Repeat after me: They arrived almost without children
and with few elders, with almost no past and no future.
Now, have a good lunch. Behave. Michael, no running.