04-21-2021

 

Kimberly M. Blaeser

 

THIS STRANGER'S BEAUTY

 

Barely formed fetus feet and tiny Spock ears

Ripley’s surreal—this listing on the edge of small perfection;

pink mouse pup bald and suckling blindly from the doe

feeding as we all do on the driven milk of becoming.

 

Somewhere beneath the sealed lumps of black eyes

a swimming to awareness under the stretched membrane of skin,

you a mere half gram and every pore and wrinkle a vanity

of knowing your own ghostly poetry, your fragility.

 

Everywhere we look—whimsy and a holy clamor for survival:

wolf spiderlings cling like moss to their mother’s back

while guppies and even angelfish gulp their fry

and still my lonely violin heart tunes to frog song,

 

to wolf howl and loon calls and other darker matter.

I believe in the fluid arch of frill-necked lizards,

impossible serrated swirls, like cirque de soleil

Seeker’s eels.  All a reptilian anti-splendor—the horror.

 

The heart of darkness illuminated by small gods

or blind and relentless human hunger for beauty,

as if each striped haunch and stretch were our own

each turquoise spot the simple reversal of revulsion.

 

We know contortion of birth, our own grotesque

sad embrace of air, of gravity. The slither and purple weight

of voice, the awakening flex of body. Hold this strange light—

a relentless spilling of fever over the untrammeled earth.

IKWE-NIIMI: DANCING RESISTANCE

 

365 jingles in rows upon my dress

turned by the hands of one who deserted

escaped a mandated Pipestone education.

266 miles looking backwards for pursuit

hiding from promised punishments by day

migrating like maang relatives by moonlight.

 

365 ribbons hold the jingles to my dress

colorful strips cut tied and threaded

stitched by the laughing women of my childhood,

women who earned 2 dollars and 25 cents

for piece-stitching geese aprons, pot holders

whose stiff fingers tapped drum beats to sew by.

 

365 prayers swing and tap one against another

zaangwewe-magooday, ancient medicine dress

silver-coned legacy sounding the cleansing voice of rain.

145th White Earth Nation celebration pow-wow

the weight of anishinaabeg history on my back

a dress made light by resistance—this healing an art.

CAPTION

 

This  is  not  a  photograph  of  the  woman   inside  the   house.

This  is  not  even  the   door  to the quiet  room where  she  lies,

more  quiet  still. No, this  is a  waabooz, a wild  spring  creature,

its  nose  twitching  in a way  the  camera  cannot  show. A rabbit

that has come for the dew, the dew on the grass outside the house

that  is  not  pictured  here.  A rabbit who will  feast on the garden

that  is  still  in  seed,   the  garden  that  will  grow  plants   wild

like  the  waboose.  The  garden  that  will   belong to  the  rabbit

and  will  not  be  hoed  by  the  woman  who is not pictured here.

-from Copper Yearning (Holy Cow! Press 2019), selected by Spring 2022 Guest Editor, CMarie Fuhrman 

Kimberly Blaeser, poet, photographer, and scholar, is a past Wisconsin Poet Laureate and founding director of In-Na-Po, Indigenous Nations Poets. The author of five poetry collections including Copper Yearning, Apprenticed to Justice, and the bilingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance, Blaeser is an Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist and an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation. A Professor at UW–Milwaukee and an MFA faculty member at Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, in 2021, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. Blaeser lives in rural Wisconsin; and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Additional information is available here: http://kblaeser.org

04-13-2021

Victoria Chang

04-13-2021

Victoria Chang