Deep time and song, these infinite nations
under cathedral woodland dome, boundless,
long as memory, tall as a story
spun summer from spring, winter from autumn,
sugar bush from trout stream from wolf hymn, moon
to the sun, salt to sweet sea, all fire,
all the branches swaying, leaf and needle,
soul seed dirt to green to gold, queued to choir.
Then snake, the booze hag jig, the winking eye.
Mowed down to cord and plow, built mine and rail,
burnt bar and blade—give an inch, give a mile,
give a swollen river of blood. Gut shot,
call it by name. Gone to ground and held on
mother tongue, lost, but come again in word:
Maananoons. “No such thing as a trash tree.”
Just white washed hands. Patience is a weapon
is a sign is a wheel is medicine.
But poison, too—relearn the tell. Wiigwaas.
Giizhik. Biisaandago-zhingwaak. Can’t duck
and dodge the unlearned thing, can’t eat a poem,
can’t dance atop a land acknowledgement.
A gravestone by any other name is.
Less than a prayer. Still, we could turn east
to an island thick bearded, burl and boll.
Our choices could kindle to gossamer
green, quick between crow’s return and chorus
frog. Together, zagaakwaa ezhaayin—
the forest is dense where you are going.
From Rewilding: Poems for the Environment (Flexible Press, 2020) by M. Bartley Seigel. Copyright © 2020 by M. Bartley Seigel. Used with the permission of the author.