heartstrings, just this side of a full moon

by waaseyaa'sin christine sy

i.*

one of many ones who are ekinomaaget (a teacher), who has taught (me) things, gently taught us that they don’t like to hear it when we refer to our things as wild

wild strawberries
wild meat
wild rice

they reasoned that it invokes the way we’ve been denigrated for so long. they never say explicitly who we’ve been denigrated by and who we are denigrated by because i) they know we know and ii) they don’t want to offend, don’t want to put that negative, that offence, into the air. (they never say explicitly they don’t want to put it in the air but it’s evident they don’t; it’s evident that being kind is more important than being to the closest truth of the truth or being right).

they reason that it invokes the way we’ve been denigrated for so long by settlers, foreigners, newcomers, new canadians (my words, not theirs, because i am a new generation and i [don’t] give a shit about being politically correct or polite because my white dad raised me right)

they reason, wisely, that it invokes the ways we’ve been denigrated, so try to avoid putting that back into the world, try to avoid keeping it living

wild.
us.
bad.

the insight and gentleness in the teaching touches me. i won’t forget it in my travels. don’t. it lives. right. here. *palm to my chest*

i don’t forget it. won’t. not ever.

but me, i’m a fighter.
not only, but yes, a fighter.
it wasn’t always this way.
used to be sweet and smiling, acquiescent.
used to be only soon as i learned there was a thing happening, a thing making it all this way, a thing

a thing is something to fight back against, you know.

only soon as i learned there was a thing and a reason for all this and that all this wasn’t normal

only soon as i learned there was a reason to fight back
only soon as i learned i could fight back,
i did.

so now i do.

that keeps twanging on my heart.

playing. heartstring.

I need to push back more nudgingly, I know.

i do. i fight back. so obvious. there’s no surprise and therefore there’s no advantage. no chance at winning (the fight). it’s just like this: i fight back. predictable.

it (doesn’t) works.

ii.

those Nikaag hung out in the morning. there amongst two hundred and thirty four blades/stalks of manoomin just this side of bloom. (that’s seventy-two more than last season. [yes, some do feel that counting is important and they share that information with those they feel appreciate it]. we’re all good with this. diversity and autonomy and respect and all.)

ohhhhh. they were happy.

manoomin stalks.

i could see them shining brilliantly in morning. happy to be dwelled in. happy to be appreciated. happy to be needed and needed.

ohhhhh. they were happy.

nikaag.

geese.

(there will be no glossary here in this heartstring only shitty not near good enough translations [and yet, because our people love us in our pitiful ways they keep showing up and teaching us and teaching us and teaching us]).

i could see them shining brilliantly in morning, shimmering grass with gold highlights. happy to be dwelled in. happy to be appreciated. happy to be needed and needed. happy to be actualized and dwelled in. happy to be wanted. happiness and minobimaadiziwin. things fitting together real good. this is what i caught out of the corner of my eye driving north listening to Eric Clapton’s “I’ve Got a Rock n’ Roll Heart”. i caught minobimaadiziwin out of the corner of my eye and this tugged n’ode.

all this at seven-fifty a.m. in the morning, barreling towards our language. all this five nikaag amongst two-hundred and fifty-eight blades of shimmering rice at six-fourty-three in the morning.

yes.
heart-strings.

now you know one of them.

iii.

those Nikaag lifted yesterday. there were two many to count but all you need to know is they were together and they were together, a family. a group. together. they were lifting towards a thing. a thing they knew would give them life. a thing they knew grew for them, loved them.

you would be happy too if you knew that thing was growing for you so you could live. growing year after year after year.

just showing up.
for you.
consistently.
from love. and, nothing else.

i was driving in sunset and witnessed nikaag. imagined how happy they must be just this side of manoomin. imagined that manoomin man i used to love. thought loved me. no matter all the other stoopidly relevant and important things, i thought there was love (despite all the white-man made up rules that said no there could not be).

i lived in the land of wrong, again.
living in the land of wrong.

wild rice.
black rice.

anishinaabe rice.
rice.
love.
a process. an action. actions.

so we try to get it right. best we can.

manoomin.
wild rice.
black rice.
anishinaabe rice.
rice.

it’s all wrong anyways if you listen to the sounds and remember what they mean.

same with g’zaagin: i love you.

it’s all wrong/right.

iv.

and this is the way anishinaabeweziwin is….it has (no) pattern so that’s why i feel very okay with going off onto this tangent during this moon:

somewhere a step-parent said “don’t ever get married”
somewhere a dad said “don’t ever let your happiness rest with a boss. or, a man. don’t ever let anyone hit you, ever.”
somewhere an adopted parent said “don’t ever wait around for a man. make sure you have your own life going on. always.”
somewhere, the one chosen said “my life is between my own two hands”
somewhere languages teachers said “she is a being changing and he is his own being, not changing”
somewhere the night sky said “wait child, wait for anungoonhsag to show up. stay the course, stay the course. it’ll be worth it.”

v.

it’s dark and esibaan is coming through the bush. i speak ojiberish to her. tell her who i am and what i’m doing (as best i can). my agenda: fear. make her stop. kill her with kindness and baby-talk anishinaabemowin.

wild things making sound in the bush at night are things to be stopped.

or
relatives moving their lives in the forest at night are beings to be in relationship with and how else to make relations but to introduce yourself proper, best you can,and say what your business is being there

being there in their land.

esiban=racoon

vi.

this niibin, all over the eastern and some southern parts of anishinaabe aki, i sought grounding: where is odjig anung?

ahhhhh.
there’s odjig anung.

ahhhhh.
there’s odjig anung.

ahhhhh.
there’s odjig anung.

and so, content. i felt/feel content in all the places. i feel/felt content in all the places because odjig is there and so too the people that come with odjig, the teachers who have taught me; the stories the bind it all together, a bundle wrapped up lovingly.

teachers are friends and mentors.
anungoonhsag are stars (some might say).
odjig anung is fisher constellation (some might say).
stars are friends and teachers are constellations are mentors and fishers.

it’s just like this.

it’s just like laying eyes on cedars and birch. like being home. staring at stars is like being home whether you find the one or not.

here though, now. i wait for no inini (as my step mom taught me well) but rather the stars. i wait for stars and shaabii (through that hole), through the tops of trees i see them

but no odjig.
too many trees.
and too many trees,
is a good thing, na?

vii.

it was dark until manoomin giizis, rice moon, rose up, rose up over tops of trees, welcoming tree frogs and other night sounds.

 

 

 

***

* The only thing original here is the particular compilation, aesthetic, and subject. I’m influenced by everyone in my life. If you see yourself here, it may be you and if so, it’s because you’re in my heart and have impacted me to the point of showing up here. In this blog entry, I don’t name the particular rice bed, or goose, or you; I only name the particular constellation and I hardly do odjig and their righteousness justice, at that. I haven’t named you as being those who have influenced my thinking or feeling for a reason: the point is not the person, it’s the season, the moon, that being manoomin giizis. the season and nokomis is the reason here. 

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