Little Cree Women (Sisters, Secrets & Stories)
after an art exhibit by Brittney & Richelle Bear Hat
Middle of northern Alberta bush:
shadows flickering over rough ground,
as a lover would trace the quiet arc of shoulder
or neglected curve of bent knee.
One big pine, solitary and strong,
framing a suggestion of camp fire—
wood smoking, kindling cracking.
Kokum said, “If you gossip about bears,
you will call one in.” And so he came,
like a truth you can’t avoid,
paws padding and breath snuffling,
before the hour was out.
Then, nudging us to find other parts
of ourselves there, like beads
worked perfectly into the likeness
of a blushing Arctic rose
fastened firmly to deer hide–
soft moccasins to wear
with each new step forward.
long braids of sweet grass and
tightly woven offerings of
sacred sage and tobacco, for smudging.
Willow bark and charred wood,
nested in a wreath of
white flowers and mint leaves.
These woods, filled with sun and wind,
water and stars, gather us in,
remind us of who we are
long after others have forgotten
and the fox still dreams,
restless in shifting leaf shadows.