At the 20th Annual Women's Memorial March, February 14, 2011

I arrive late, joining

a sea of umbrellas

braced against a pouring sky.

Already the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers

of some of those

three thousand women

missing and murdered

flow out through the Carnegie doors.

The elders lead a familiar refrain,

a depth of pain and pride

drawn by drums to the surface,

song spreading back through the masses

in sporadic echos.

I've only heard it

at protests and funerals

and I realize I don't know

which this is.

We march.

We take up space.

We stop, stand still.

Rain beads on hair, on beards,

drips off noses,

makes collective grief palpable.

We march again.

The police chief walks beside me.

From the edge, an elder blesses us,

thanks us for our solidarity.

When I leave,

I find myself running.



At the Pow Wow, February 15, 2011

My god-daughter sleeps through the drumming,

curled up in a ball,

pressed to my chest;

my red hair rests on her small, dark head.

She smells of smoked salmon.

Her father and brother and cousins surround their drum,

their beats pulsing as one,

resurrecting an ancient song.

I smile in pride.

These men are all my relations,

all the more so since this dark-haired child

adopted me.

See, I say to her,

in the middle of the room,

our sisters are dancing! -

bells stitched into their coloured skirts,

feathers fanning the air,

stepping lightly,

faces strong.

Shawl-draped arms spread like wings

and draw us in.

Watch them all whirl.


There could be thousands of them.



P.S. The photos are not mine... I wish I had taken photos at these events!