Poetry winner of the Writing in the Margins contest

cree: she is swept away by the current

the fundraiser for water protectors
movie night with
dairy free pizza cause all natives are lactose intolerant
but ignore it anyways

i walk back to the bus stop with stacks
even when i give the girls who came pieces for every day of the week

and the moon
the moon just a night into fading from fullness
laughs at me for wanting to cry

how did i not expect only two people to show up
of them                                                                                                          
white and sorry

there is a scene in smoke signals where the sad native boy cries as he pours his father over bridge into
roaring angry always been there river
and i could not help but picture myself entangling in the meander

maybe land is where my sacrifice has been born and is
waiting for me to give up and jump into current                                     but

the current comes with steel
it comes with missing mothers who just left their husbands for the final time
walking down highway to get flour       canned corn       dreaming of recipes       shoestring wrapped braids

the current comes with men who didn’t mean to be away that long cause going back means to call
something broken

going back means empty                                                       space that was never empty
something always wasn’t there

so i am something not full like that moon who laughs at me
wishing i could be forgiven ash in river
mourning and grief drawing the curtain

obsessed with brown             confused
not wanting to say goodbye to Indians you just met cause
their mouths were huge and hopeful

This poem was the winner of the poetry category of our eighth annual Writing in the Margins contest. Poetry entries were judged by Gwen Benaway. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) to this year’s contest. Briarpatch will be accepting entries for the ninth Writing in the Margins contest in September 2019.

Ashleigh Giffen is an Anishinaabe/Pueblo/Icelandic creator. She studies Indigenous studies and creative writing at UBC Okanagan, on Syilx territories. She is a multidisciplinary artist and hopes to ignite readers through lenses of Indigeneity and dreamstate.

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