- Two Poems
West wind’s grass dance Issues forth promise Not dulled by repetition
East wind pulls up belief Re-searches the world of grass Nurtures winded promise
Grass blades succumb to north wind’s song Trees surrender to being buffeted by cold Stilled by winter’s sleep
South wind exalts Pulls water in small miracles From the edge of dreaming rivers
In this ceremony Of wind song and dance New life is born
I’m Home Again
Blue-hued dark, green islands jut up to reach the sky Still looking as though they are struggling to become flatlands valleys and lush green meadows They didn’t quite make it most of them They remain cedar and fir-decked mountain edges of earth tied to the deep. [End Page 17]
The sea holds these her baby lands bathing them in her white-capped evening water rocking them as though it were the ferry standing still and the islands moving Memory pulls at my skin, images punch holes in this moment of awe over the vista—the not-quite-born islands make. My body knows these islands
The story of this corridor belongs to Suquamish boatmen ferrying families from one end of its territory to the other. Cedar and ermine-skin-clad women ancestors stand regal in the canoes while brown-skinned men Dip and sing through the slate under-bellied Blue-green water.
Conquest silenced these boatmen stilling the story of canoes for a time to waken in the first year of my birth. This meander feels so familiar I have to wonder whether or not I am impressed.
I’m home again. This journey from Squamish, BC, post-cultural prohibition in 1951 to Hedgebrook in the summer of 2000, thirty-eight years after our emancipation is fraught with the urgent watery aloneness only writers feel. The aloneness of paddling about in our various sociological and historical swamps, Weaving snippets of dream words we selected to play with into the loom of our imaginations harnessing language to plough new soil, create new story, is thick, omnipresent here.
I’m home again. My pathway here is strewn with sharp stones singing confusing songs of yearning. My bones, my personal stones, sing back songs of yearning—Tsuniquid’s yearning. I watch myself highstep my way to this language [End Page 18] This pen This paper this place.
The stones’ razored edges bleed white as the faces of my dead emerge, embossed by the shadows in the center of each stone. Between the stones holding their faces, ribbons of light flicker Snippets of my busyness shine inside each ribbon of light. I watch myself steal moments to create art. Coolly and deliberately I let go of Lucucid Grieve the parking of my original language And bury it inside my bones.
I pick up the volumes of books cradling the text of this language. I feel the sandpapering this language once was and re-watch as my body. smoothes the rough edges as the words journey through me See-yah becomes saskatoon, si-siutl becomes sea serpent, Tsuniquid becomes the mother of thought Thought becomes hidden being, Hidden being becomes a spiral down to a moment of peace and recognition Knowing becomes a spiral out to meet the world. This sea, this new Tsuniquid forms the structure of my being.
I’m home again. Killer whales sidle their litheness alongside the ferry. Cedar bows acknowledging my return.
Raven calls out a cackled hello. Berries look ready to greet me. Even the sea peels back its tide To permit a trek across her mud just as I land I can see the wetlands from the hill near my cottage The tears come.
I’m home, Momma. Haitchka for leading me here Haitchka my dead for fussing over language for me Haitchka to those who came before me, for story, for song, for dance. You paved my journey home with light and alacrity. [End Page 19]
I am home again. Suquamish voices are everywhere here. I am so totally old and so completely new here. I pull fragments from old file cabinets, splinters of memory, Bind them together to re-shape...