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BooksNovember 20, 2020

The Friday Poem: In response to The Last Mastodon chapbook by Christina Olson, by Whina Pomana

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A new poem by poet, designer, artist, and musician Whina Pomana.

In response to The Last Mastodon chapbook by Christina Olson 

So much about the treatment of dead things
And incorrect assemblies
They built a parking lot on top of Sally Hemings and—
The casual disrespect white people have for death that doesn’t look like them
And life that doesn’t look like them

I lack a fundamental understanding of the concept of land ownership
Because you cannot own a living thing
Christina Olson taught me about dead things, mastodons, connections, claims of ownership over the living, over long dead bones

Thomas Jefferson owned Sally & 600 other human beings
More than half the population of the town where I grew up
My ancestors were stolen
Some are in museums
Others were forced to live in caves and build the town where I live now

We treat the rare with reverence
Sonder stopping at humans or death
Is how we get drawers full of ancient uncatalogued horse bones

I imagine they are organised by type
For ease of storage
Rather than by horse
We bore easily, group like lives together
I know Jefferson’s and Sally Hemings’ names I am still missing those six hundred
I can name James Cook but not my great great aunt who slept with him

There are ways to manage grief
There is no cure, yet

 

The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed and will open again in early 2021.

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Image: Tina Tiller

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