by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
it’s everything, you know. the distance and travel, having all the homes and feels and we’re now living geometrically in a triangle waiting for the fourth place to call it because things happen like that. my heart. a heart can stretch like that. n’ode, it clings pathetic and righteous to the clean air left in the midst of windigos and zombies. if my heart had fingers they would be long and graceful, keying the grief, albeit in nanoseconds. still, my heart. n’ode. if my heart were a tongue, i would teach you to put ziinzaabaakwad on it once a year for the grief and loss, teach you to do this before all other things; I to you, too. and this, this is how we would love each other, well. this lagging in my mouth and heart, my brain, traveled from okemos across borders, real and imagined in real time and dream time and back, and now all the miles and kilometers stretching tendons in my left hip knotting up tendons and muscle in my left hip feels like the stains on her face, the ink stains on her face, ink blots of pale on cool white hovering in the night and cool air, odjig miinawaa maang right over there, twinkling in the new fall skies, eager, excited for the change. learning to live, to live with, learning to breathe in and out air and carbon monoxide mix forever brewing the alchemy of stories living in a body these years.
stories, brew, simmering. a gentle bubbling. a hot cup of medicine in a iron stained pot. a jig. a dance. a laugh. a wink.
a hot cup of tea. labrador, winter green, sweet gale, cedar brewing on the back burner while life happens. let it take care of itself back there, that old Mushkego woman said, let’s live life up here. you drink a cup of this everyday and all your (heart) ache will go away. grow a good story of pain, deceit, predation and walking through fire, walk through it ’til you get old. make a good one for your grandbabies, if you have any. make a good one anyways. tell someone everything when it no longer matters. when it becomes inconsequential; gotta keep it clean for the babies coming through, don’t leave your baggage for them. make a good cup of tea stain right there in your crows feet she said, pointing at my crows feet and shuffling her own over curled up linoleum etched with gritty love and booze, inconsequential moose hunts, and flirting. a hot cup of tea, spring tonic in dagwaagi, autumn. and, can you feel it? the pull? of river and cloud, of western spirits and roots simmering down for the night, the pull of dead leaves floating up in a gust of wind and let back down, rearranged. the pull of imagination and wonder.
med’cin. falling leaves medicine. the stories. a fire. a fire outside beneath a full moon, drop of tobacco and water, a berry. a shaker and drum. a song. a wondering. a wish raised up on a flicker of spark, a wisp of smoke. when nothing materializes, memory does.
roll that around.
the funk in my synaptic gaps isn’t a cold virus or a neurotransmitic (im)pulse gone astray, breaking away, isn’t a heart break, a yearning. it’s a stretching out of energy into a stringing of words together correctly and footnotes, digging deep for propriety and settling on the surface in the politics of poise, not poetry or rhythm let loose from finger tips. tat-a-taptap on keyboards. tat-a-taptap kind of truth. eya. kaa. the funk in my bones isn’t stuck there. go outside girl, check life out this night. open up the god damn window and breathe. the funk between my tendons and cells isn’t you. or longing. it isn’t because it’s easily thrust away into oblivion with all the things, all the feels of this full life blessed and propelling, being pulled into life’s longing for itself.
that anishinaabe, anishinaabeg in her folds.
yes. here in the folds of life herself.
it’s you in me and she draws you out. no use though. you want to live here. so you do. live with it then. live with it well. i do. i do not fight it.
looking up at night the cool air on my neck i recall falling leaves and the smell of rot as we circled the bend of our time but i loved it anyways. the smell of going no where felt good in the moment. going no where anywhere over a long distance that would never find an end with you, was interesting. i smelled decay coming around the bend and sniffed it out. sniffed it out as though it was walking towards me. can do that when you’ve been raised in a kind of home. can smell the decay and rot a mile away. but i won’t turn. not ever. won’t turn like a dead beautiful leaf signifying sugar in my roots, my moon, falling, twisting to the ground just to hit repeat. no, not me. i won’t turn. keep walking up through the forest of fire because its safe here. safe here in spring and fall. safe here in fasting season, in my heart fasting.
it’s you and she draws it out at night, an old man, old time anishinaabe ikawe, nini, aango’ikawe drawing the sickness out through a bone, a bleached out bone sucked marrow dry and then you, too. suck the sickness out like, chachiigijige. suck you out like marrow sickness.
chachiigijige. akiwenzii, my chum teaches me lots. how to eat plain like those old ones. how can they eat plan with maple syrup as ketchup, with words like chachiigijige, i wonder. nothing plain about that.
or panjige. sop it up good with bread.
fall foods. waste not.
this binaakwi giizis isn’t a cliché white dude doing his magazine commercial walk and life and nothing wrong with him doing his thing but i wonder what would he think of anishinaabe thinking about marrow and chachiigijige’n bones in the bush and raising up asemaa to odjig on the horizon, Nokomis sinking in the night sky behind a flaming forest. what would he think? what would he think about even us writing about it without capitals? what would the marketers think? the ec-dev’ers? the elitists?
anishinaabe’ ikawe harvesting wiigwas in place of getting mizise for supper. thoughts?
no meat; a good fire started with wiigwaas will do. anishinaabe’ikawe going outside at night to move the funk around in her body. look up and zaasaakwe out loud, put that asemaa down gentle and slow, almost wanting the middle class professional neighbours to see this ancient movement of body. rise up again with mindimoyen, one who carries the world with her, her words in my spine, soles, and soul. of all the women, she gives me hell and she clears the way, giving me permission to be even in the middle of giving me hell, lucky me, there’s actually two of her informing me, all feminine. what would he think of us here doing our kinship tie thing while he doing his Land’s End tie thing?
drawing out the funk from deep within, tripping well through to the next cycle, living the good life, even here, in this place. this third den on the horizon of this life. building a constellation here on the turtle’s back.
and Nokomis, this is all for you. my kind of prayer without ishkode in this space with so much to love. still though, you draw me out to the real. amiigawech Nokomis, aapidjii nendam for drawing it out, you up there sitting in coolness with ink stains all over your pale, round face. amiigawech for the cooling and the drawing me out, pulling on these waters.