You can mock me for carrying these feathers and bones
But the work in them has served me
And my kin for generations–
I keep your bodies whole
Even while you disrespect my station.
I lost my mother to folks
Who thought they were her betters,
So don’t just wallow in your own blood
When I knit you back together.
Appreciate the second chance I give you.
I still have Cession dirt under my nails
and river water in my blood.
I keep the land with me,
Tree and totem, branch and bud.
Bind me up in uniform,
Don’t hold back the starch.
You can make me shine my boots but
See if you can make me march.
I keep my feathers and bones
Good and close to my heart.
We all know loss.
That’s the lot of a witch.
Pain is not more special
When it belongs to the rich
And grief and tears still taste like salt
Even if they make the river run.
We don’t choose our legacies but
Each of us must shoulder one.
Don’t talk to me about the burdens of your bloodline,
When I stand like a lost toy soldier
At the very end of mine.
My legacy is scarred-up knuckles,
and the call of birds that have flown.
I sing songs around fires and
Shiver under rough wool blankets
When the nights get cold
And I’m alone.
So keep your family legends stitched into tapestries,
Keep your sash and gallantry
And I, the child of Chippewa,
daughter of field and stone,
will keep my disrespected name,
And keep my feathers and bones.