For my Métis wife — giving voice
to her Ojibwe Anishinaabe ancestors.

The elders tell us the zhaagnaash are coming
with their pale arms, clumsy boots and nervous chatter about change
Change is hard to picture in this place of forever
where the wind whispers through pine tops
causing boughs to wave to the spirits
filtering just the right amount of sunlight
for the mushrooms that rise after each rainfall

Here, streams trickle over round pebbles
until they are worn to speckles of sand
signalling the great stone bird to lay more
reminding us that everything exists in a circle

We are told the zhaagnaash do not value such talk about forests and pebbles
We are told the zhaagnaash follow instructions from books bound in leather
not seeing in the forest and streambed
that all Life returns to where it started

Our people have always walked among the old ones
trusting in the Creator and the spirits
We have never troubled
asking questions about tomorrow

But the elders say the zhaagnaash consider us lost in shadows of imagination
after being too long in the forest

We are told the zhaagnaash believe the world can be bought and sold
that treasure can be found by clawing at roots, damming waters
They won’t find riches under the trees or in wild mushrooms

We are told the zhaagnaash teach their children that when anyone dies
they should dig great holes in the ground
allowing the dead to take all they can with them

Useless, all that hoarding
Useless, all that rushing to the future
Useless, all that nervous chatter

What would the great stone bird say?
I pray the zhaagnaash will one day find contentment with the forest,
the wind, the stream washing over pebbles.