sturgeon

i twist and gasp

open and close my mouth

searching for air

whenever a sturgeon is caught in the rainy river

i know

the feel of strange hands touching my body

the struggle

to be free

the longing

to go where i want to go

i feel

the impact of stick or rock on bone

the splash of colour

then the emptiness that is my head

my head like a midnight sky if the stars and moon were captured

by another heaven

i know

even when i am awake again

sitting at the kitchen table

staring at my plate with its bramble design

and rough chipped edges

i know

 

that is why i do not eat sturgeon

because i know

when a sturgeon is caught in the rainy river

i am a sturgeon

and i dangle on hooks

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, “sturgeon” from My Heart Is a Stray Bullet. Copyright © 1997 by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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