Like the Trails of Ndakinna

byCheryl Savageau
We're French and Indian like the war
my father said
they fought together
against the English
and although that's true enough
it's still a lie
French and Indian
still fighting in my blood

The Jesuit who traveled up the St. Lawrence
found the people there uncivilized
they will not beat their children
he wrote in his diary by candlelight
and the men listen too much
to their wives

You who taught me to see no borders
to know the northeast as one land
never heard the word Ndakinna
but translated without knowing it
our country, Abenaki country

Grandmothers and grandfathers
are roaming in my blood
walking the land of my body
like the trails of Ndakinna
from shore to forest

They are walking restlessly
chased by blue eyes and white skin
surviving underground
invisibility their best defense
Grandmothers, grandfathers,
your blood runs thin in me
I catch sight of you
sideways in a mirror
the lines of nose and chin
startle me, then sink
behind the enemy's colors

You are walking the trails
that declare this body
Abenaki land
and like the dream man
you are speaking my true name

© 1995 Cheryl Savageau
From Dirt Road Home, Curbstone Press.

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