he got big roll uh, first thing in the morning

by waaseyaa'sin christine sy

On Travelling, Part II: Scenes I


                    he rolled wild and broad and epingishmok-way. tumbling and swirling so sure; sweeping goon across cleared away lands, sleeping fields, yellow decapitated maandomin laying exposed. he rolled beautiful & tragic & uncaring, in all his glory, parading there in front of a star-struck audience of ininaatigok—all tall and slender and naked. and me here watching it all; amazed. driving closer and closer. he moved like he knew the way was his and no one could stop him. hmph. why would anyone want to anyways? his danger, swelling roll and roll, captivated. white spirals revealing nodin’s curves, her rambunctiousness, playfulness. the kind of playfulness that is grounded in a knowing that she can kick ass too. i smiled and hurriedly worked some mashkiki out for him, his spirit; steadied my right hand on the driver’s wheel ’cause i could feel him pushing and pulling, taunting, teasing, cajoling. come on, come on. wanna play? i put my window down, wishing for the old hand cranked window ’cause that would make it more you know, just more; put that window down desperate to make my offering before time passed us both by. i stuck my hand out there, up high, and offered him that asemaa. he claimed it ferociously. rightly so. he was working beautiful & tragic. i let him blow in, right over me, anticipating his bite, his sting. anticipating it with humility, gratitude, and held breathe. surely such display, such grandeur, such awe must have a cost? i was amused and surprised and giddy that this big roll, this big show, this jaw-drop was refreshing on my face; this rolling show this push and pull was a soft caress on my left cheekbone and eyelashes. his big show made me laugh right out loud and i thought he did that for me but no, he claimed that too, my belly laugh, without hesitation. i put the window up quick, skittish with the feeling that i was at the limit of something here. as i drove through him blowing around me, i couldn’t help but smirk, shake my head. he big roll uh, first thing in the morning. had to give that one a right lovely saasaakwe. had to resist the urge to catch another glimpse in my rearview mirror, keep my eyes on the road, hands on the wheel. big roll uh?


epingishimok is the name of the spirit that resides in the western direction. This spirit or the gifts, the work, the purpose this direction has relative to Anishinaabeg life is rich and complicated; best relayed in Anishinaabemowin (the language) and therefore beyond the realm of the writer, who is merely at a baby-speaking stage of the language and the meaning of this aspect of Anishinaabe worldview;

goon is snow (on the ground);

maandomin is corn;

ininaatigok are man-trees; straight, upward, truthful (that is one translation of inini/man); maple trees;

nodin is wind;

mashkiki is medicine; worked medicine out refers to taking it out of a medicine pouch;

asemaa is niitam mashkiki: the first or lead medicine; tobacco;

saasaakwe is a shout out to the spirits; acknowledgement; recognition for that being; calling out to them; letting them kow that you too are here; you are over here shouting out to them in recognition, love, awe, joy.