After Viewing the Holocaust Museum’s Room of Shoes
and a Gallery of Plains’ Indian Moccasins, Washington, D.C.

The portrait is clear;
one is art
the other evidence.
One is artifact
the other atrocity.

Each is interned
behind glass,
with diagrams
and panels,
a testament to miles
walked. Both
are worn,
each are a pair,
one is cobbled
the other beaded.

At my tour’s end
can I buy a key-chain shoe?
Will I be assigned
the ID card
of one of the perished
at Wounded Knee?

The moccasins
are beautiful.  Seed pearls
woven intricate as lace.
We don’t mourn
the elegant doe skins,
we admire the handicraft.
We don’t ask from whose soles
do these relics come from?
We don’t look for signs of resistance,
or evidence of blood.
We don’t wonder
perhaps he was of a ripe
old age and died in his sleep.
Perhaps this child
traded for a stick of candy
or a pinch of dried meat.
We don’t assume
any original ownership at all.

Their deaths weren’t curated
not part of an installation. We
don’t absorb their violent
or harrowing ends under soft
lights or dramatic shadows.

We look right
through them,
more invisible
than the sighs
of ghosts.
And then we move
on to the next
viewing,
to another
collector’s trophy
lying
under the glass.