Art: Electra Records [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Francesca DelPrete

 

Dawn’s Highway

Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding

Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.

 

Me and my ‑ah‑ mother and father ‑ and a grandmother and a

grandfather ‑ were driving through

the desert, at dawn, and a truck load of Indian

workers had either hit another car, or just ‑ I don’t

know what happened ‑ but there were Indians scattered

all over the highway, bleeding to death.

 

So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time

I tasted fear. I musta’ been about four ‑ like a child is

like a flower, his head is just floating in the

breeze, man.

 

The reaction I get now thinking about it, looking

back ‑ is that the souls of the ghosts of those dead

Indians …maybe one or two of ’em…were just

running around freaking out, and just leaped into my

soul. And they’re still in there.

 

Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding

Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.

 

Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven Blood

stains the roofs and the palm trees of Venice

Blood in my love in the terrible summer

Bloody red sun of Phantastic L.A.

 

Blood screams her brain as they chop off her fingers

Blood will be born in the birth of a nation

Blood is the rose of mysterious union

Blood on the rise, it’s following me.

 

Indian, Indian what did you die for?

Indian says, nothing at all.

 

The poem above is written by Jim Morrison, from the album An American Prayer, released in 1978.  Morrison describes a scarring event from his childhood: “Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind”.  He witnesses this gruesome event through the eyes of an innocent “flower”, a child who has not yet “tasted fear”.  The evil becomes so apparent to the child that it inserts into his soul, where it lies dormant.  It seems that Morrison writes about this incident in comparison to the degradation of Indian culture in American history.  He references “blood” multiple times throughout the rest of the poem, commenting on the bloody “birth of the nation”.  He ends his poem “Indian, Indian what did you die for? Indian says, nothing at all”.

I remember visiting the Pequot Indian museum with my mother and grandmother when I was a child, about 8 or 9 years old.  We had already gone through most of the exhibits, which included beautiful scenes of the Pequots, guiding us through their native lands.  The film was different.  Native Americans- men, women, and children were slaughtered by white men on horses.  They cried and shook in fear.  I did the same.  And all I could see was blood. When the film was over we left the theater, I clung to my mother and grandmother like an infant. When I closed my eyes, I saw blood for that entire day.

The way Jim Morrison feels in his poem is the same way I feel, now looking back at the situation as an adult.  The Indians entered my soul, and they’re still there.