Saturday, February 21, 2015

A serendipitous discovery

Last October I took a trip to the Minnesota Goose GardenMy Minnesota has several previous posts from that trip.

Minnesota Goose Garden in Sandstone
Minnesota Goose Garden in Sandstone
Photo by J. Harrington

During that visit, I was pleased, but not surprised, to see an acknowledgement of Frances Densmore's ethnographic work. I knew her name from our copy of her book "The Strength of the Earth, The Classic Guide to Ojibwe Uses of Native Plants."

Explanation of the Goose Garden
Explanation of the Goose Garden
Photo by J. Harrington

Today I encountered Densmore's name in a completely new context. This time I was surprised but delighted to see her name listed next to Minnesota's own Robert Bly, poet, editor and translator. That juxtaposition occurred thanks to Bly's role as editor of The Sea and the Honeycomb: A Book of Tiny Poems and his efforts, as translator, after Frances Densmore, of an Ojibwe prayer. Combined, Bly and Densmore, and the original author(s), brought this profound insight to us from Minnesota's past:
"Sometimes I go about pitying myself,

and all the time

I am being carried on great winds across the sky."
I will hold those thoughts close to my heart while crawling through the last weeks of Winter, toward Spring's renewal and another visit to the Minnesota Goose Garden where I will say "thank you" to Frances, to Ni'sucwe'yaci'kwe (Woman blown about by the wind), and to the Ojibwe people who have helped Minnesotans have both roots to grow and wings with which to fly.

Frances Densmore and Ni'sucwe'yaci'kwe
Photo by J. Harrington

Elemental Conception

By Heid E. Erdrich 

She wants to grow from the rich-rotten trunk
of the stamp left to sprout in the chain-linked
alley yard. She wants to be born there.

Or out of dry wind rushing debris around
and cleaning the world like a slate that
hasn’t yet written how her birth will be

if she be born slick-wet and shimmering
in rings like gas spill, born from long trickles
run off curb-piled snow that flows in curtains

any northern winter when it is possible to burn
in water, when flakes against skin so cold brand
their pattern on the new-thought, engraved self.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.