The Fresco Says It All! ( poem )

The Fresco Says It All!

From the mountain,

From the forest,

From the river,

From the wild,

We came.


Not tamed

In their eyes.

Depicted by cathedral fresco

At Mission BC

Our faces are empty

In their eyes.

No clothes,

No nose,

No eyes,

No ears,

No mouth,

No expression,

No emotions.

No individuals.

We were the faceless

In their eyes

Before the Black Robes


In their eyes

Were we

Barren pewter plates?

Empty jugs?

Blank paper to write on?

Creatures to domesticate?

To tame?

In their eyes

Were we cyphers

In a ledger?

Were we souls

In a cash register

For deposit in Rome?

In their eyes were

We like chum salmon

Heading home to die

In God?

As seen in their fresco

As seen by their eyes,

Out from the watery wilderness

The first of us converted,

Got a colourless face and shoulders.

The second to convert

Got copper coloured skin,

Got face legs and arms,

And from Rome a number,

To mark a soul as saved,

As the numbers as blessings

Were tallied in a roster

At St Peters.

At first,

We resisted conversion

Until small pox struck our village.

The variola virus, an invasive species like the Europeans,

Brought fatigue, rashes, lesions and pus-filled scabs.

As loved ones were perishing

In the fever of the plaque,

We were promised

Life after death

With our elders

In a beautiful heaven.

Who could resist

As seven out of ten

Of our people died.

We were promised salvation

And residential schools

For all our children.

We have survived it all

As a people.

But we are still living with the scars.

This was no miracle.

About the author : Wally du Temple

Books written by Wally du Temple are sold by where author information is available in English.