makwa is turning around in her den this month, giving birth to her babies. Mindimoyen is ceremony-ing her and teaching Anishinaabeg to do the same. That beautiful inini with twinkling eyes who loves Anishinaabe life, trapping, his wife, and his grandkids also honours this month. The old Irish ways celebrate the stirrings of spring and new life deep in the ground like us too. They call it Brigid day. Since I’ve been learning about this moon cycle and what it means for us, and since I was able to practice this meaning over several years when I was home in my territory, I’ve come to feel makwa giizis in my belly. I feel her deeply like I feel for that Ojibwe man who won’t seem to leave my body. I have never tried to get rid of those feelings, I just closed a door so they wouldn’t be fanned. I still don’t want them fanned. I just figured they would go away.
He’s a man who only seems to know himself when he’s bound up tight with a woman, making babies. And, like Anishinaabeg men who’ve been taught by settlers, when I knew him, he was a man who learned he can just step out when he gets bored, honouring nothing and no one but his own needs. I am not that step. I am not that toy. It hurts to even remember that he saw me as such. I hope he got the message. From me. And other women.
Even if he is a colonized man, he is a good man. I know his Ojibwe goodness. His goodness makes me feel alive.
And still, despite long-close doors and messy human ways, makwa is stirring in her den and spring is here in my belly for him.
I’ve come to accept that life has just put those feeling there, made embers in my body for him. I didn’t ask for them; I don’t feed them. I want to feed them though. I want to feel alive. Also, the settlers and their valentine’s day, the freshly fallen snow, the need to retreat into something beautiful has me wanting to write this fire out into the world.
There is something else: he, or his pawaaman, is working dreamtime with me. Has been for years, even when we were actively in relationship. Even after I closed the door. Fasting dreamtime and every day dreamtime. The first time, it was his clan and every time after, it was him. I won’t get into how he was in those dreams but I will say this: when he came to me that last time, it was clear, purposeful and beautiful. I lay in bed all morning wanting to keep the dream close. It gave me life. I told a girlfriend who understood instantly. We laughed so much and shared stories. It was so good to have a girlfriend who knows the whole lying-in-bed-as-long-as-you-can-to-keep-the-dreamtime-from-slipping-away way of being.
I don’t understand him though: he comes to me in beautiful ways and then he retreats. On the occasion I do go see about him, he’s put up a big sign: taken.
Well then, if you’re so taken quit coming to me in dreamtime loving on me and in my daytime putting hearts in my world.
Maybe he’s a scaredy cat.
Maybe he’s fishing
to have his ego stroked,
I will not be fodder for his ego or the banality of his life—again.
And, something new: what he doesn’t know is that now, I have a bear with lures in her belly who keeps the men who toy with my heart in her den.
Beyond the games, he feels there is something here.
I want to believe that.
What else can this be but Ojibwe love?
He knows he is in me and maybe he’s not toying. Maybe he just wants a sign from me to assure him that he is still in my heart. Maybe he wants to know this. And maybe he wants me to know I’m still in his. And maybe he wants all this without the pressure of having to perform or give up something. Maybe he wants to be a good man and he wants to love more than one at a time.
Maybe he should read Kim Tallbear.
Maybe he should do something to demonstrate a pondering of me and all my wants.
I am a makwa ikawe feminist. I don’t turn my life over for men. I have learned not to play tricks on myself when it comes to them. And yet, this situation, whatever it is, can’t be denied. I won’t deny it. I don’t want to. I want to be moved. I want to be fired up. I want to be in love and lust. I want to feel the feelings. I want to be in the feeling of caring. I want to believe that Ojibwe love is a thing and I want to believe that it’s more powerful than settler everything including settler gender games. I want to believe this.
I recall the heat between us. I could easily walk in(to a) life with him. An original, righteous and beautiful life of Ojibwe relationship—with care, mutual respect, supporting each other in our different paths. A real good kind of way of being with each other, one with lots of breathing room. A non-traditional way of being because I am a travelling-ikawe. He knows this.
I don’t know what it is between us but it is a gift to my spirit. It inspires me to imagine legacies of Ojibwe love. It fuels me to want to ignite these legacies and keep something of it going for the future. Maybe he is not a physical love for this place and time. Maybe he is my muse and maybe together we can create something beautiful and hot and life-giving for our people without ever touching each other.
Maybe what is between us is an ancient bundle. An old, old bundle of embers. Glowing. Flickering. Set down by the trail of our intersecting lives in another time, buried deep like winter and stirring like spring.