Washing the World

By Anna Marie Sewell

In the dark at this end of the year
so much stacked up against the light
between us, against the odds
despite the tears, in this season’s bitter wind
listen to a dream
in which grandmothers stand
shoulder to shoulder, on the rim of a hill
they bend as one, and grasp one thing together
ask them, in the dream world, why
do they cry… and they will show you in reply
their shawls of many colours, spread these wings
sweep you in and teach you how
once a year, in the dark of the year
we wash the whole world in a day.
for one day, we cry.
from one dawn to the next
remember the fallen
mourning for the broken
wailing for regrets
love lost, wrong words, wrong actions
unbalanced moments and all the cracks
between heart and heart, parent and child
lover and beloved friend, nation and nation
creature, and creature of another kind
for what we choose and what we neglect to choose
for what we wish we’d known
for each hand unclasped
the tongue unbridled
one whisper falling short of heard
the bread far from the hunger
the apology
the confusion
the broken road
these things we gather in this blanket
brown and sand and beige
we wash the world, between us
we hold this blanket, fill it with our tears
and when we have cried
from one dawn to the next
then we will rise, and we dance
cradling this ocean, bitter healing, dark
let them lay your hands upon the truth of beauty lost
heavy, soft as moss
this blanket full of tears and dust and dying
becomes, as the light is returning
the promise
washed clean
by our sorrow
not so much redemption
as the logic of seasons
calls for justice, to restore the rhythm
one day, the lawmakers must exit
their echoing halls, fall in
with the grandmothers
carrying it
cry it clean
until light through their bodies
translates to rainbows strung over the land.
she tells me that, her eyes all red.
and shrugs.
and trudges off through the deep
snow blanket that covers
this end of another year
ams at homeAnna Marie Sewell is Ojibway, Mi’gmaq from Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Quebec, and Polish.  She is the author of Fifth World Drum (Frontenac House 2009) and was Edmonton’s 4th Poet Laureate (2011-13). See webofvisions.wordpress.com/ writing collected in her installation, The Poem Catcher – 18 months, 1000+ pages, writers from around the world. Her other work continues, at The Learning Centre Literacy Association, at prairiepomes.com/.  Sewell will be opening for Joy Harjo at Edmonton Poetry Festival, April 20, 2014.
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About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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  1. buriedinprint says:

    Simply beautiful.

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