Bones by Katherine Parent
About the Song: Written by my great-grandpa's cabin in Northern Wisconsin, after a revealing visit to the local history center (which only mentioned events after 1891), and after seeing Amoke Kubat's play "Angry Black Woman and Well-Intentioned White Girl" in Minneapolis. I imagined what it might be like if a wiser white ghost met a more recent and very lost one on the Great Plains, and what she might say to her.
You were born to city people
a generation from the farm
I'm circling back, a restless spirit
Coming home with empty arms
There's not much left of the lilacs
Barn is tumbled open wide
Your grandpa's trees are growing wild now
They're familiar with the sky
There she goes, a'wandering through this land
Through concrete walls and magazines
Searching for a place to lay her bones
For a story to believe
But this town doesn't claim its history
Just plaid and green, a threadbare story
(What did it cost? When did they come?)
And all that you have brought to go on
Are tall tales and trite refrains
Of dirt-cheap land, hard-working settlers
Nobody lost, no one to blame...
There you go, such a well-intentioned ghost
But you still don't understand
That haunting antique stores, historic trails
You're trespassing on sacred land
oooOOOOOooo (ghosts singing)
There's not much that I can give you
You'll have to find your own release
In a land torn by such hatred
there's no easy road to peace
But it's no wonder you're still lost here
Out beneath the open sky
To find your bones, to face their stories!
To finally grieve, to finally die...
Oh my ghost.... oooh...
Oh my soul, my long-forgotten soul
Come and listen to your bones!
released October 16, 2020
original song by Katherine Parent
Original recording: Shane Leonard
Ghost vocals recording and mixing:
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We are white cultural workers who believe our own freedom is intertwined with the struggle against white supremacy.