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A Water Poem for Remembering

By Kimberly Blaeser

Yes, it’s true I speak ill of the living
in coded ways divorced from the dead.
Why Lyla June fasts on capitol steps.
Why Native women disappear like rabbits
reappear in rivers wrapped in death scarves.
A leader’s slight of voice a disgrace—
we’ve been magicked before into war.
Why we sing mikwendam—even now
remember. On the coldest day of January
gather near ancestral waters, Michigami
(where the Milwaukee, Menominee,
& Kinnickinnic rivers meet like sisters)
where conical mounds still rise on bluffs
story good pathways—bold and blue as nibi.




Listen as Kimberly Blaeser reads "A Water Poem for Remembering."

Added: Friday, March 13, 2020  /  Used with permission.
Kimberly Blaeser
Photo by John Fisher.

Kimberly Blaeser, past Wisconsin Poet Laureate, is the author of five poetry collections including Copper Yearning, Apprenticed to Justice, and, in 2020, the bi-lingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance. An Indigenous activist and environmentalist from White Earth Reservation, she edited Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. Blaeser is a Professor at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and MFA faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her photographs, picto-poems, and ekphrastic pieces have been included in exhibits such as “Ancient Light” and “Visualizing Sovereignty.” She lives in rural Wisconsin; and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Blaeser is founder of the literary organization In-Na-Po—Indigenous Nations Poets.

Kimberly Blaeser was a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness (March 26-28, 2020) in Washington, DC which was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Split This Rock began a virtual poetry reading series in May 2020 which included a reading by Kimberly Blaeser, Mahogany L. Browne, Marilyn Chin, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha on May 29, 2020.

Other poems by this author