the knowing

the re-invention of oneself

through the tongues of whispering mountains

the re-arrangement of the universe

because a spider wrapped her legs around a star

the knowing

the remembering of stone’s story

while walking down a dried riverbed

being serenaded by crickets singing the blues

because everyone except them has forgotten

the knowing

which trail to follow through clear-cut forests

which scent will lead you home

because a thousand-year-old bear still lives

amongst the dead bodies feeding off their memory

the knowing

the recollection of the loudness in silence

the clarity of unspoken words while sound crashes earthbound

because it is in what is not said that the truth sits

the knowing

the peeling back of ones own skin

to discover that the lizard sleeping against your spine

was born the same moment as you

because she knew that one day you

would need her sharp tongue to survive

the knowing

the rediscovery of crow perched on your shoulder

her claws leaving scratch marks against your heart

because you need to be reminded that you are alive

on days when you are numbed into speechlessness

the knowing

the glimpse of your reflection in the eyes of a stranger

who is leaning against the chest of a cedar tree

while cars spit at her then mock her existence

because she refuses to roll over on the sidewalk

and you need to be reminded of why you were born

the knowing

the recreating of ceremony at the hands of change

while wandering through unknown places

because history has turned us into our own lodges

when it tried to bound our mouths and tie our words

the knowing

the acknowledgment of ones ancestors

must become an ordinary event taking place with each breath

keeping them alive so their voices touch our skin

with urgency and desire in our ribcages

because it is their shadows that protect us

the knowing

the importance of embracing our places or remembering

because inside their bodies live our beloved

through their existence we are fed love on a plate of resistance

while we swallow stars dropped down our throats by spider

“the knowing” by Connie Fife, from Speaking Through Jagged Rock. Copyright © 1999 by Connife Fife. Reprinted by permission of Broken Jaw Press.

Source: An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English, 4th ed. (Oxford University Press, 2013)