Ewako ôma askiy.

It’s hard to translate ewako. It has a feeling in it. It’s almost a feeling word.

(This then is the earth.)

Duane Linklater learns Ininīmowin from nohkomnânak mina nimôsomnânak—in close study—felt—over decades. (These ones, they stay with language through ongoing efforts to disrupt our bodies, our thinking, our lands.) We visit, our words, their energy, the incompleteness of translation, our radical love of breath in motion sound on air throat sweep and call. I hear drift and grain in vowels of silty river, spongy muskeg, windswept tamarack, clay that holds us as it held our ancestors. I am not a speaker of Ininīmowin nor am I Omaskeko—(gwi suk)—yet niwâhkomâwak.

Copyright © 2023 by Tanya Lukin Linklater. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 8, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.