Wellspring: Words from Water

By Kimberly M. Blaeser

A White Earth childhood water rich and money poor.
Vaporous being transformed in cycles—
the alluvial stories pulled from Minnesota lakes
harvested like white fish, like manoomin,
like old prophecies of seed growing on water.
Legends of Anishinaabeg spirit beings:
cloud bearer Thunderbird who brings us rain,
winter windigo like Ice Woman, or Mishibizhii
who roars with spit and hiss of rapids—
great underwater panther, you copper us
to these tributaries of balance. Rills. A cosmology
of nibi. We believe our bodies thirst. Our earth.
One element. Aniibiishaaboo. Tea brown
wealth. Like maple sap. Amber. The liquid eye of moon.
Now she turns tide, and each wedded being gyrates
to the sound, its river body curving.
We, women of ageless waters, endure;
like each flower drinks from night,
holds dew. Our bodies a libretto,
saturated, an aquifer—we speak words
from ancient water.


Film by Monte Nickles and James B. Joyce.

Part of Songs at the Confluence: Indigenous Poets on Place, a digital event produced by Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation and Tippet Rise in collaboration with In-Na-Po (Indigenous Nations’ Poets).

"Wellspring: Words from Water" by Kimberly M. Blaeser, from Copper Yearning (2019). Reprinted with permission of Holy Cow! Press.