“the flavour of change” by Mika Lafond

the land has changed
no longer do the grandmothers pick
from the wild breast of our mother
we no longer move with the season
with the herds
since Treaty
we have had to learn to find value in what the land gives us
from this space where we have been placed
displaced yet we find livelihood
domestic animals
domestic lands
servants of survival

each morning before the sun breathes light onto this land
the grandmothers pin back their hair
wash their hands in basins of warm water
tie their kerchiefs of pinks and reds
to catch the sweat of their labor
long days on their aching feet
comforted only by the moose hide wraparounds
from grandmothers who knew the wild
knew how to chew the hide
to embrace feet with a supple caress
those born now do not necessarily know
the magic of moose nose soup
or the intricate significance of each bone muscle organ
memories held under tied back hair and kerchiefs
wrapped around
from grandmothers

we learned that with change
one thing did not
one animal can provide for many needs
waking before the sun
to give thanks and pull flavours from animals in ramshackle barn stalls
then haul pails splashing with the weight of each step to the porch
where grandmothers churn and churn and churn
to fill our mouths
with butter
found wealth from a changed land


This poem was previously published as part of a brochure for Joi T. Arcand’s art show.

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