This piece was published in Philos Adelphos Irrealis, an anthology of what-if-in-Philly short literature. Patrick’s piece below asks what if William Penn’s Treaty was not the peaceful accord recorded in history.
When that Delaware chief Tamanend did not take Penn’s proffered hand, when the King’s terms were rejected in the pride of the Leni Lenape. When the Delaware would not be stepped over it was spanned and that bridge was not named Treaty.
Where the life-blood of Tamanend ribbonned out and clung drying to the dirt. And rose up in that Murder Elm and fell cold in its shadow, blooming come dawn toward a city blood-bought. From it come dusk.
Even if Tamanend never meant affable and Penn meant murder but memories misremember and Delawares die out and a storm uproots that spiteful elm, then there let’s raise an idol. Let’s misnomer Treaty. Set an example.
And when race riots and blood clings to dirt look within. Look down that canyon Broad and see what shape is shot up against blue like a promise unforgotten and never made at once. Him they call Diplomacy, Theft named Handshake. Cast up in bronze and turned toward his triumph on the Delaware, of the Delaware. Where his descendants fly from. His stolen legacy and leave it for the rest of us dancing in the night like lunatics on an Indian burial ground.