a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
beyond mask, abundance for ailing human souls.
Oh sweet glimmer—white frost a sprinkle on winter prairie,
marshland a glazed and ghostly paradise where ice crackles
echo and echo across the expanse of its mirrored floor.
Here we small, we holy disappear into etched ice patterns;
swallowed by reflection, we trace belonging skin to skin.
Like land inscribed, we harbor stories, walk each ancient pathway
where tribal mounds still rise, hallowed and endless as copper memory.
In this curved alcove of sandy shoreline waterfowl dive and feed and bob.
We pledge allegiance to the water—nibi relations wet and blessed.
Here a rock point stretches black into winter water,
this outcropping a gesture, an arrow we follow.
Then abracadabra! Each round rock suddenly plump and feathered,
a gathering of dark knowledge rising.
Oh, shelf of duck
launching into air!
Like the sigh
from my lips—
Praise the peninsula of
by gifts of water
this healing earth:
of your leaf blade
larger than my hungry hand
pointed like all deeply-held secrets.
I whisper names: arrowhead,
water plantain, duck potato—
Your tuber body
my buried history
the old dream where we all grow
wholesome and laughing—nibi time.
Anishinaabeg water nations
feasting on the submerged—
and their stories.
for Juane Quick-to-See Smith
Deep bellied world:
a prairie of saw blades and sweetgrass
skeleton fish who crossed realms
rice kernels and elk antlers,
all watered by manidoog—tempestas
and noodin spirits, these sky relatives
who answer red willow bark prayers.
(how they feather brush and conjure
animate geometry of angle, arc, of spiral;
how color sacreds each relative—
a wing palette of translucence.)
(makwa indodem, the climb of corn plants,
bee buffalo raccoon branch lightning—
each mothed starred and furred
holy the hooved the leafed the four-winged kin.)
How we story: water // bodies
crow and messenger shadows, Memegwesiwug.
Each feast, spirit plate, offering of aseema
a follow—how lines of pencil smoke lift like music,
scent and conjure mino-bimaadiziwin.
transform into animaled eyes masks claws. Into crossings:
no lock, no chain of being—only this blue brush
Kimberly Blaeser, poet, photographer, and scholar, is a past Wisconsin Poet Laureate and founding director of In-Na-Po, Indigenous Nations Poets. The author of five poetry collections including Copper Yearning, Apprenticed to Justice, and the bilingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance, Blaeser is an Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist and an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation. A Professor at UW–Milwaukee and an MFA faculty member at Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, she lives in rural Wisconsin; and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.