for Nathan Phillips


Remember hands, ungloved and notched by life. Watch them pour stove-top coffee into tin cups, lift cross poles onto fence bucks, mend nets, rock your children.


Pay homage and speak the names of sweepers and shovelers, canners, cafeteria cooks, baby doctors, and death-bed watchers. Esme, Dale, Margaret, David, Mike, and Colleen.


Receive all gifts (crocheted afghan or prize money) with humility. Gratitude spreads easy as butter; unworthiness endures.


Watch the eyes of turtle. Admire the neck-courting of swans. Study wingbeats and tail rhythms. Note how otter sows stoop to lift pups. Listen to wind in fall, to trees bending and unbroken. Announce like spring frogs the unfolding of each holy year. Carry candles into cathedrals, poetry into prisons.


Do not become beast in the fray. Remember the Indigenous hands that drummed on, the man who stood calm.