Dsonoqua Daughters

by Neile Graham

Autumn rain scrubs the forest and its
dusk with dirty, dripping stars. Mother
drifts over dank nurse logs, she-bears, watching.
She bears watching.

Forest tides
rouse the strangled undergrowth around her
stirring the rank smell of nettles and rotting wood
pricked with lush green. Might
they grow her a blanket, something to cover
her red cedar skin with redness yet more red?
To cover the fierce eagle heads her breasts now are
with russet leaves?

She has come all this way from where she began
the mask about to take off her mask
to stay the rustling of the hemlock night's unseen things,
its starkness borne and born.

No blanket. She's the mask, the very O of her breath
looking for the children that we are. She
would eat us as soon as embrace
and birth us in the forest afterwards
better, bigger, more beloved.
Better, bigger, O Beloved.

Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination, having grown up in B.C. and currently living in Seattle. That, in conjunction with her lifelong fascination with myth and folklore has led to her working on a collection of poems about the mythic lore of Scotland and the Pacific Northwest, from which this poem comes. She has three previous collections of poetry, Seven Robins, Spells for Clear Vision, and Blood Memory, as well as a CD of her reading her work, She Says: Poems Selected and New. Her poems and stories have been published in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. Her favourite fruits are the raspberries from her garden, which she annually combines with apricots and spices to make jam.

"Dsonoqua Daughters" first appeared in an anthology titled Arms Like Ladders: The Eloquent She, produced by the Feminist Caucus of The League of Canadian Poets in 2007.

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