all the elements that make up anishinaabe life through ojibway makwa ikawe embodiment + anishinaabe feminist lens

Month: May, 2014

spring rituals

if lilac smells
can be violently


blown up here
into this worn
out yard
packed down
by Indigenous moms
and babies
living in the city,
packed down yard
from playing
hard and too
much winter
salt on walkways
and parking lots
blown up here
down wind
from the
tearing through
olfactory paths
searing nostrils
the brain
of the english,
settler colonization,


won’t stop
from loving them

The Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky

Just slipped outside again to take one last look for meteors in Camelopardis, a constellation in the skies of kiiwedinong miinawaa epiingishmak (northern and western direction). There was nothing up there except for the vast clear sky and a ka-trillion stars. There was nothing but getting lost in them.

I followed the faint scent of barelyhere lilacs and the roar of the Otonabee River back to center, back to the dewy lawn, back to the warm late night.

Back to early, early morning.

My neck hurts, in a good way.

There were no meteors out there that I could see but there was much to be thankful for so I said “amiigawech anagwan miinawaa gizhe manidoo gaa miizhyin bimaadiziwin”. There was nothing except for what I imagined to be all of us travelling through the tail-end of a trail made of ice and dust, a comet.

In the absence of seeing the meteors soaring here and there, there was nothing but what I imagined to be the sound of stars rushing through the sky. I don’t think it gets better than that actually.

Note: The Sound of Stars Rushing Through the Sky, Bamewawagezhikaquaeban, was also an Anishinaabe woman who was born at the turn of the 19th century in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan aka Bawating. She passed away on May 22, 1842 at the age of 42. She is referred to as the first American Indian poet and published her poetry. She was the daughter of a well-known Anishinaabe woman, Ozhaaguscodaywayquae and John Johnston. Bamewawagezhikaquae, aka Jane Johnston, was also married to Henry Schoolcraft. I think she must be out there, in the dust and gas and light of these meteors we are travelling through…

these days leaving: On Travelling, II

something about a makak being half empty half full

it’s full

and these days leaving feel like many last times many first times many maybe once again

these days leaving.

this evening akiwenzii waited while we zipped down the trail. hard for him to walk these past few years and ikawewizens knew where that asparagus was that we found walking this trail together last summer, late. late when asparagus is easy to see. we conferred en route about what it looked like when we found it last year and what it would look like this ziigwan. she liked the way it tasted two days ago and yes, i’d like to try to find some more. juicy stems, sweet. spring tasting.

out of luck but still our visions are full of remains: golden rod pods where the spirit of women live. white people or western scientists call them bugs burrowing but those old storytellers and me, we call them a woman living in the golden rod pod with a burrowed hole, a man who loves her searches for her there, carries here always, despite the burden of her memory. out of luck with asparagus but still lots of leftover milkweed stems.

brilliant milkweed pods. proof of proliferation. brilliantly proliferating, like us.

these days leaving smell like river water in spring still freezing but surface skin slowed and warming up in setting sun. these days leaving smell like dew.

dew falling on new grass, odeminan blooms, and ashphalt with the dust of day between her fingers and mine. the silhouette of akiwenzii against his relative, ziibi, framed by greasy car windows, waiting for our return. old time music fuzzy station crackling.

leaving has my heart in my throat. a jingle in my step.

these days leaving have me here alone.


picking wewaagaginan. remembering the first time: fiddleheads and lilacs. and this time: rez gas and a quick zip over to see. zigame and blackflies get me and so does the spirit of cleaning up other peoples trash on aki. it’s the least i can do. been given so much.

these days leaving see fiddleheads turned to ferns in many ways but also still found in a bag, in paper napkins shared with neighbours, in a pot of boiling water with asparagus. coated in butter, pepper, and herbamare.

days leaving glimmer, break through last years deadfall of leaves and prawns, copper glimmering shimmering layers of protective fragile robust-enough skin over wewaawagin heads waiting to be snapped off revealing juicy stems and savoured.

minerals and iron.

something every ikawe needs.

especially in springafterwinter.

something everyone needs is a good feed of ziigwan miijim: sweet, earthy, robust minerals and sugar water. bass. ogaag.

night ogaa gifted in dark cold waters. a stab. a light. moonlight, starlight, jacklight. osprey, loons. reflections and sounds: chorus frogs, leopard frogs, spring peepers. vibrations. veterans and new kids. a friends son and my girl feasting on fish. creation wants them and us to keep coming back. we try.

these days leaving keep coming back.

these days nokomis wakes me every night between bezhik and four in the morning assuring it’s all good child, imprinting her love and the love of ziigwan’s flourishing tree buds onto a shoulder, exposed hip, ankle through branches and a bedroom window wearing a film of blurry life and dirt from last two seasons.

these days leaving remind me to clean this window for the view of spring branches framing nokomis casting her growing moonlit shadows of new life against my own–black shapes against misty dew (or fog) and coming day blue–and into this space, this ethereal space of getting ready to travel.

there is something illuminating about the middle of night and silence. blue, green, and shadow.

my ancestors. oh, my ancestors. i ain’t got nothing on you or the astral planes and currents you navigated. oh my ancestors. amiigawech.

and there, there beyond the row of cars waiting to pull out a set of young blue eyes and beside them a set of young brown eyes and mine and behind me a yelp of joy: “Mom, it’s ______ and ______!” and awkward smile and eager waves and and and

this leaving includes (not) screwing up all wrapped with resolve and faith in a bundle and tears for missing the elk, the moose, the deer riding bikes. my girl and these days leaving for us all.

these days so many moments of rememberance, clinging, and open eager hesitant walking walking driving moving and moving. so anishinaabe.

a door step sitting. a walk. a conversation. a quick detail negotiated here, plan confirmed there. a tear in the middle of a mediocre sentence: “it’s nothing. i’m just going to miss you neighbour.” a burst of tears. “it’s something. it’s too much.”

we’ll fire and ceremony and feast. we’ll fancy.

to love and be loved these days leaving

is my heart stretched and stretching.

a hide.

my heart, a hide.

a stretched out moozowayaan.

a brain tanned deer hide.

a heart stretched is one worked and working
through these days leaving.

i lost my friend and found

i was prepared to make a new one. i was even planning on starting today, this being how far along i was in my grieving process of losing my friend. it had been about eight nine ten days since i last saw him and i looked everywhere.

i mean e v e r y w h e r e.


he was gone.

then today, out of nowhere and while just on the other side of grief and loss i found him, in my pocket, the pocket of my navy-blue hoodie, the pocket of a hoodie i hadn’t worn for eight nine ten days or so. there he was all plumpish and bulky. i found him and he made me laugh right out loud.

me here in my living room alone, laughing from relief; me here having to take a seat and relish the moment. recover from the joy and grief. me here looking at my friend, smiling.

geez friend, why’d you go and do that? i thought i lost you, again.                      and holay, didn’t realize how worn you are. just all weary looking. and loved. well, loved. i missed you. so happyhappy to have you back. amiigawech.



tobacco pouch/bag

asemaawazh ~ The Ojibway People’s Dictionary

kishkibitaagan ~ A Dictionary of the Ojibway Language, Frederic Baraga, (265)

gashkibidaagan(ag) ~ A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwe, John D. Nichols and Earl Nyholm, (271)

being influenced by great poets outside the Anishinaabe world, or My Favourite NaPoWriMo Poem

being influenced by great poets outside the Anishinaabe world, or My Favourite NaPoWriMo Poem