Joel Brouwer

For What the Hell They Needed It For

For Crazy Horse came to Fort Robinson
to set a rumor straight and died. For he
brought white lilies to the clinic and asked
a nurse for water. For he woke from dream-
less sleep to a child pounding on the door
of the bookmobile and the sense no time
had passed. For whoever cried for water
from the stockade. For South Dakota, land
where he drove the country bookmobile and
she adopted practical methods to
set straight abstract problems. For the rumors
about how Crazy Horse died passed around
the stockade like blankets rank with pox. For
no time passing. For no time passing. For
time passing and already September
and the practical problems of the kids
crowding around the bookmobile. For pox
rising in a dreamless dark. For her still
dreamy beneath the sedative seeing
the lilies between the water pitcher
and tissues and saying aren’t lilies for
a funeral. For whoever pounded
the stockade door in fear having woken
with the sense no time had passed. For the book
about Crazy Horse and the water he
drank reading it. For manual vacuum
aspiration and related methods.
For a rumor set straight. For the mother
who told him what my kids need ain’t in no
damn book so what the hell they need it for.
For my lands are where my dead lie buried.
For what they did with it after. For time
passing in the century’s dreamless sleep
as forts rose on the prairie like lilies.
For the last time and for the final time.
For the book about the methods he read
under water. For Crazy Horse dead by
his own hand. For a lily will crumble
beneath its strangling gilt. For Crazy Horse
murdered. For gilt obscene and abstract, but
steadfast. For Crazy Horse wore no paint or
war bonnet into battle, but covered
himself with dust and ash mixed with water.
For it came to him to do this in a dream.