Arnott, Joanne

Canada, (b. 1960)

she is riding

  1.  
  2. she is riding
  3.  
  4. down through the suburban grey
  5. streets dreamed by developers and
  6. implemented for traffic floes
  7.  
  8. comes riding the turquoise green Grandmother
  9. riding her mighty Sow
  10. onto the battlefield
  11.  
  12. down along the highway of decay she rides
  13. between the crack houses and on to piggy palace
  14.  
  15. where the spirits of the women are lifted
  16. out of the horror, out of the muck, like
  17. troubled teeth and bone fragments
  18. their spirits gather and rise, and rise
  19.  
  20. all of our dead sisters lifted by those winged women
  21. well-versed in the protocols of the battlefields
  22. recognizing the existence of the battlefields, here
  23.  
  24. as along the highway of tears
  25.  
  26.  
  27.  
  28. shoulders back open arms open chested
  29.  
  30. the turquoise green grandmother breathes
  31. along with each one of us still travelling
  32. our inner city streets
  33.  
  34. our turns on the quiet highways
  35. our love affairs gone wrong
  36. our villages overrun
  37.  
  38.  
  39.  
  40. shoulders back
  41. open arms
  42. open chested
  43.  
  44. letting flow the sounds of the inside
  45. the sounds of our voices calling out songs of sorrow
  46. the sounds of our drums rising through time and through sky
  47. the sounds of our warm bodies travelling swift
  48. through the families
  49. and through the forests
  50.  
  51.  
  52.  
  53. shoulders back
  54. open arms
  55. open chested
  56.  
  57.  
  58.  
  59. we accompany our sisters and brothers to the threshold
  60. we hold them until they are fled, and then
  61. we hold them more
  62.  
  63. we accompany our mothers and our fathers
  64. we accompany our children, our friends, and o
  65. the many strangers, the star gazers
  66.  
  67. we hold our dying persons long dwell
  68. inside memory
  69.  
  70. we lay each one to rest
  71. slowly
  72.  
  73.  
  74.  
  75. shoulders back
  76. open arms
  77. open chested
  78.  
  79. tears coursing from the inside
  80. across the outside and wetting
  81. our multihued skins
  82.  
  83.  
  84.  
  85. the touch of a warm palm in passing
  86. through hair on a child’s head gently
  87.  
  88. the touch of lover to beloved
  89. anywhere, at any time
  90.  
  91. the touch of Grandmother’s warm palm
  92. on the cheek of her adult offspring
  93.  
  94. or along the stiff hair on the Sow’s back
  95. she is riding

© Joanne Arnott. A Night for the Lady. Vancouver, B.C.: Ronsdale Press, (2013).

About the Poet:

Joanne Arnott (b. 1960) is a Canadian writer, poet and cultural worker. Arnott was born on the banks of the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Much of her published work focuses on her heritage in the Métis people of Canada, who trace their ancestry to a mix of First Nations and European peoples.

She is a founding member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast, and The Aunties Collective. She has served on The Writers Union of Canada National Council (2009), The Writers Trust of Canada Authors Committee, and as jury member for the Governor General’s Awards/Poetry (2011). [DES-06/14]

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