I Sat Quietly – Poem by Teta Engram (translated by Solomon Ratt – y-dialect)

Thanks to Izaiah Swampy-Omeasoo who sent this poem by Teta Engram to Solomon Ratt for translation into Cree. Teta Engram is a teacher at Victoria School of Arts in Edmonton, who has a keen interest in writing and working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.

I Sat Quietly: Teta Engram

I sat quietly
by the river and watched
the river and the rocks
perform a dance, so intricate
it seemed the steps had been
practiced for generations
but I could never learn them
nikâmwâtapin
wâsakâm sîpîhk ê-kanawâpahtamân
nipiy ikwa asiniyak
ê-mamâhtâwi-nîmihitocik, mamâhtâwisimowin
tâpiskôc kayâs ohci ê-pê-isi-nîmihitohk
mâka namôya wîhkâc
nikakî-kiskinwahamâkosin
I listened to the birds
calling to each other
in a language that was both
foreign and familiar
and as hard as I tried
I could not understand
ninatohtawâwak piyêsîsak
ê-tâh-têpwâtitocik
pîkiskwêwin nawac piko
pîtos-pîkiskwêwin mîna
kisâstaw ê-nisitohtamân
mâka âta ê-sôhki-kocihtâyân
namwâc nikî-nisitohtên
It was the children
who shared their stories
and dreams with me
it was they who spoke
of the land, and its gift
and I understood
awâsisak aniki kâ-mâtinamawicik
otâtayôkêwiniwâwa mîna opawâmiwiniwâwa
wiyawâw kâ-pîkiskwâtahkik
askiy, êkwa omîyikosiwin
êkwa ninisitohtên
I did not need to
dance in the river
I only had to appreciate
That it would dance for me
namôya katâc
ta-nîmihitoyân sîpîhk
têpiyâhk ta-nahîyihtamân
ê-nîmihitôstamawit
I did not need to
sing with the birds
I only had to respect
The song they sang
namôya katâc
ta-wîci-nikamômakik piyêsîsak
têpiyâhk ta-kistêyihtamân
nikamowin kâ-nikamocik
I did not need to fear
because the children
would be there
and their stories
would live
forever in me
namôya katâc ta-sêkisiyân
ayisk awâsisak
êkota ta-ayâwak
êkwa otâtayôhkêwiniwâwa
nika-wîcêwikon
kâkikê
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3 Responses

  1. Hi! tanisi . Phyllis nitisithihkason. onihithowi kiskinwahamakiw nitha.nisicawayasihk ohci
    mwana Father’s Day Vocabulary kitayanawaw?

  2. Tansi

    I am so humbled and honoured to hear my poem in your language.

    I am grateful that it was translated for those that I wrote it for – the children of the earth.
    Hiy hiy
    Teta Engram

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