Chris Henry/Unsplash

physics lessons for settlers

Poetry winner of the 2021 Writing in the Margins contest

after “Some Like Indians Endure” by Paula Gunn Allen
dedicated to Cree and Métis girls

in northern alberta towns
Métis girls are forced
to remind their white
science teachers of the laws

of physics settlers conveniently
forget that nowhere is not a place
exempt from the law of conservation
of mass and energy that mass

does not simply vanish
without effect which is to say
that a disappearance
has a cause
and also a consequence

that nowhere is not
a morally neutral settler

nowhere and elsewhere are real
places full of real

bodies that occupy labels like

nowhere is a prison
is a psych ward
is a suicide
is a death
from ‘natural causes’ is a mass grave

nowhere is the place
behind genocide’s

basement door and white picket fences
might keep the dogs in
but they also obscure the view
of hastily buried crime scenes

when my relatives and i return
from the brink of nowhere
settlers painstakingly plant our fingerprints
on the murder weapons
of those of us that didn’t


This poem was the winner of the poetry category of our 11th annual Writing in the Margins contest, judged by jaye simpson. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) for this year’s contest. 

Meghan Eaker is an amiskwaciywâskahikan-based poet, registered nurse, and beading artist of mixed European and nîhiyaw ancestry, and a member of the Woodland Cree First Nation. She is a University of Alberta nursing PhD student researching Indigenous youth mental health promotion.

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