Healing Gila

for The People

The people don’t mention it much.
It goes without saying,
it stays without saying —

that concentration camp
on their reservation.

And they avoid that massive site
as they avoid contamination —

that massive void
punctuated by crusted nails,
punctured pipes, crumbled
failings of foundations . . .

What else is there to say?

This was a lush land once,
graced by a gifted people
gifted with the wisdom
of rivers, seasons, irrigation.

The waters went flowing
through a network of canals
in the delicate workings
of balances and health . . .

What else is there to say?

Then came the nation.
Then came the death.

Then came the desert.
Then came the camp.

But the desert is not deserted.
It goes without saying,
it stays without saying —

wind, spirits, tumbleweeds, pain.

— Lawson Fusao Inada

Lawson Fusao Inada was born in 1938 in Fresno, California. A third-generation American, he was four years old when his family was incarcerated by the U.S government. Along with more than 5,000 other Japanese-Americans from the Fresno area, the Inadas were kept at the county fairgrounds under armed guard before they were forcibly relocated to concentration camps around the U.S., including one on the Gila River Indian Reservation.