Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

playgrounds and graveyards May 31, 2021

The elders told you.
Trembling voices.
Feathers clutched for courage.
They told you of their sisters, brothers, and cousins
who did not come home.
Those who crept out at night and
walked through wilderness to return home.
Those who got sick and died.
Those who were beaten.
Those who were broken.
Those who were battered.
So many buried.
The elders told you how truth had been buried, too.

So many lost children.
Now 215 have been found.
Their bones are proof to the elders’ words.
Who is surprised?
Children buried in unmarked graves.
See what is also buried there:
Denial. Shame.
Voices rise in sorrow.
Now what will be done
to bring peace to the children who survived?
Grown with a burden of brokeness. Grief swallowed.
How will the elders’ trauma be relieved?




This poem references the discovery of the mass grave of 215 children on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School. Read an article about it here:


4 Responses to “playgrounds and graveyards”

  1. Jim Stewart Says:

    One of the saddest histories ever.

  2. trishwrites1 Says:

    I can’t even imagine the pain and rage and truly hope this time there is action.

  3. Thank you for keeping this story in mind by your writing. Part of justice work is telling the stories.

  4. […] playgrounds and graveyards / poem-hubris – Shawn wrote 2 poems in response to the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. […]

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