- Vol. 09
- Chapter 12
First Nations etched their spirits
from red cedar, the wood abundant
in forests of the Pacific Northwest.
This was before bulldozers and saws,
before voyageurs sailed, set claims,
pounded stakes in someone else’s back yard.
First Nations carved sacred objects,
their animal cousins, whose eyes shone
alien yet familiar, in the dark beyond cook fires.
Eagle, bear, beaver, hawk, wolf
rose into the sky and back into the past.
These tall wooden poles sometimes sprouted
wings where once there were branches,
bonding earth and sky.
Generations removed from any living beginning,
we who were born in a worn-torn century
have turned away in shame from ancestors
who played marbles with atoms,
who birthed nightmares. We dream
new spirits, space odysseys, seeking
a lost ancestry with earth in the stars,
imaging intergalactic alliances.
We mass produce novel sacred images—
Chewbacca, ET, and three-eyed minions
whose kind eyes and smiles
on porcelain, on poster board, in plastic
reassure us that we can be loved.
On our chests, we wear idols—Che Guevara
the Fonz, Wakanda, I “heart” NY, RBG.
One acquisition at a time, we collect
effigies of our chosen spirits fired into
the glaze of enamel mugs. Tokens
from our travels, we stack, cup upon cup,
our totems on our kitchen shelves.