Angels: 215 >, 1820 – 1979 “The Past is Always Our Present”

We are honoured to share this new poem by Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Louise Bernice Halfe written with love and respect for the children found in Kamloops and the families they left behind. We offer it both in its original English, and in this y-dialect translation prepared by Solomon Ratt with her blessing. Sol has provided audio; image provided by Louise Halfe.

Angels: 215 >, 1820 – 1979

 “The Past is Always Our Present”

okîsikowak 215 >, 1820 – 1979

“kayâs kâ-kî-ispayik kapê kiyâpic nitispayihikonân anohc!”

© Louise B. Halfe-Sky Dancer Translation by Solomon Ratt (y-dialect)
A cradle board hangs from a tree
A beaded moss bag is folded in a small chest
A child’s moccasin is tucked
Into a skunk Pipe bag
Children’s shoes in a ghost dance.
A mother clutches these
Palms held against her face
A river runs between her fingers.
tihkinâkan akotêw mîtosihk
kâ-mîkisihkâtêk wâspison napwêkinikâtêw mistikowatihk
awâsis omaskisinis tâpihtin
sikâko-ospwâkaniwatihk
awâsis-askisina ê-astêki wâsakâmêsimowinihk.
okâwîmâw sîhtâpîhkênam ôhi
owâyicihcêwa ohci omihkwâkanihk ê-sâminahk
sîpiy sâpociwan yîkicihcânihk.
A small boy covered in soot
On all fours a naked toddler
Plays in the water, while her Kokom’s skirt
Is wet to her calves.
nâpêsis ê-akwanahokot pihko
ê-pimitâcimot oskawâsis
mêtawêw nipîhk, êskwa ohkoma okîskasâkay
ê-sâpopêyik isko otasiskitânihk.
“How tall are you now?” she asked.
“I’m bigger than the blueberry shrub,
Oh, as tall as an Aspen
Where my birth was buried.
See my belly-button?”
“tâniyikohk kitisikinwâskosin êkwa?” kakwêcihkêmow.
“nawac nimisikitin êyikohk iyiniminâhtik,
ôh, êyikohk mîtos
ita nitaspiskwêsimon kâ-kî-nahinikâtêk.
kiwâpahtên cî nitisiy?”
Each have dragged a rabbit to the tent, a tipi
Watched expert hands
Skin, butcher, make berry soup for dinner.
Boy falls a robin with a slingshot
He is shown how to skewer the breast
Roast the bird on hot coals.
He will not kill
Without purpose, again.
pâh-pêyak otâpâtêwak wâposwa pakwânikamikohk isi, mîkiwahpihk isi,
ê-kanawâpamikocik kâ-nahtâ-itôtahkik,
pahkonêwak, maniswêwak, mînis mîcimâpôs osîhtâwak ta-otâkwani-mîcisocik.
nâpêsis nîhtatahwêw pihpihcêwa pasastêpicikan ohci
kiskinwahamawâw ta-isi-cîpatâskwahahk mâskikan
ta-nawacît piyêsîsa kaskaskisîhkânihk
môya kîhtwâm konita ohci
ta-nipahtâkêw
The tipi, tent, the log-shack are empty
Trees crane their heads through
The tipi flaps, the tent door
Through the cracks of the mud-shack.
mîkiwahp, pakwânikamik, mistik wâskahikanis pisisikwastêwa
mîtosak nawakiskwêwak sâpo
astipahkwânihk, pakwânikamik iskwâtêmihk
sâpo mistikohk wâskahikanisihk.
A mother’s long wail from 1890
Carried in the wind. A grandparent
Pokes embers, a sprinkle of tobacco,
Cedar, sweetgrass, fungus, sage
Swirls upward.
okâwîmâw kinwêsk omawimowin 1890 akîwin kâ-kî-ispayik ohci
pêhtâkwan yôtinihk. omosômimâw, (ohkomimâw),
cah-cahkaham kaskaskisiwa, siswamêw cistêmâwa,
napakisihta, wîhkaskwa, posâkana, paskwâwîhkaskwa
ispayinwa ispimihk.
Children’s creeks
Trickle in their sleep.
A blanket of deep earth
Covered fingers entwined
Arms around each other.
awâsisak osîpîsisiwâwa
pimâpotêyiw onipâwiniwâhk
akohp timêhk askîhk
kâ-akwanahokâtêki yîkicihcâna apihkâtênamwak
mispitona ohci ê-âkwaskitinitocik
We have been
Waiting.
ê-kî-pêhoyâhk ôma
ê-pêhoyâhk
It is time to release
This storm
That consumes all this nation.
Awasis, this spirit-light, these angels
Dance in the flame.
êkwâni ôma ta-pakitinamahk
ôma wâninâkwan
kâ-kitamwâhk kahkiyaw tahtoskânêsiwa.
awâsis, ôki ahcahko-wâsisiwak, ôki okîsikowak
nîmihitok iskotêhk.
The bones
Will share their stories.
oskana
ka-âcimostâkonawak otâcimowiniwâwa.
Listen. Act.
These children are ours.
Could be……………………..Yours.
natohtamok, itôtamok!
niyânân ôki nitawâsimisinânak.
êtikwê…kiyawâw.

About Arden Ogg

Arden Ogg is Director of the Cree Literacy Network, launched in 2010 with the goal of creating Cree language literacy materials suitable for use by learners of all ages.
This entry was posted in Audio (y-dialect), Poetry, Solomon Ratt, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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