Browsing a recent issue of World Literature Today, I have found a thought-provoking activist poem by Linda Hogan that considers the ways we are shaped by "our numbers." I offer below its opening stanzas:
Embodied by Linda Hogan
I am embodied first by the numbers
given my grandparents,
no choice but to sign the Dawes Act.
Outside under the night moving sky
what it is to be made of this continent
from the beginning.
I came from the salt and water of those before me
before the creation of zero,
and then the numbers given my grandparents
by the American government,
and the names that belonged to others.
The past we have not forgotten.
They said you only pass on the people’s story
by telling it. You keep it by giving
it away. And so I do.
. . .
Linda Hogan is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and has been inducted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame for her contributions to indigenous literatures.