July 15th, 2018

Saami

By Ron Riekki

When I write about being Saami, my sister

cringes.  She doesn’t want us to be indigenous,

but rather middle-class.  My father is divorced

from his heritage, the nuns having beaten

my grandfather’s fingers if he ever spoke

a word of a language that is now dead.

And I think of the death of language, how

the heart of words stops hyper-perfusing

so that the hands grow cold and the letters

turn pale and the lungs cease.  I want to be

indigenous, but it is more than writing poems.

It’s becoming a shadow to drums, covering

yourself in the stillness of your ancestors.

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