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Speaking, Like Old Desire

Inwe. Mikwendan.Gezikwendam.Remember. Or barely. A dialect.Can a nation re-speak itselflike ghost dance singers conjuring the buffalo?Who holds the ends of the brokentelegraph lines crackling betweena signal this moment a word.

Like catching a muskie on a crappie hook—how can you conjugate after forty?I don’t remember, you don’t remember…Something bending under the weight of history—meanwhile, how do you say “snag” in Ojibwemowin?Keep practicing a recitation “My Indian name is…”recollect a drumming in autumn—Bine, and the wiinzowinof clan relatives—

Amik Stillday, Anangookwe. Niigaanii.Make dialect an app and desire a foil-edged laminated prayer card.These hungry eyes a hazelnut trace,old power, pictographs red and ancient on rock cliffs.Yet this crane tongue stumbles again over grammar—waniike or boonendan—what comes before or afterto make forgetting a command?Will we make spirit houses for buried languages?Or sing healing songs—nanaandawi’iwe-nagamonan?Speak this future tense in copper like ancient lines, like longing. [End Page 75]

Ephemeral Habitation at Cavate

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[End Page 76]

Kimberly Blaeser

Scholar and creative writer, Kimberly Blaeser (Anishinaabe) has published three collections of poetry: Apprenticed to Justice, Absentee Indians and Other Poems, and Trailing You. A professor at UW–Milwaukee, Blaeser is enrolled at and grew up on the White Earth Reservation. Editor of Stories Migrating Home and Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone, Blaeser is currently at work on a collection of “Picto-Poems.” Her writing has been widely anthologized, most recently in The Heath Anthology of American Literature.



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