there’s a cheyenne saying that reads:

“a nation is not conquered until

the hearts of its women

are on the ground.”

i think sometime ago

my ancestor, she buried her heart in the soil.


she buried her generations of love

and her generations of anger

in northern prairie earth

letting the roots rend her ventricles apart

so that we could grow strong and mad

from the northern prairie muskeg.


her tendril veins grew tall into white birch

shedding her skin with every passing season.


when the wind blows through her leaves

you can hear her whispering:

“you hurt one of us

you hurt all of us”

we take her paper birch skin and cover

our own skin and this is how we

protect ourselves from the threat of violence,

and from the acts of violence that were more

than a threat.


it is with her skin covering our skin

that we have perfected wrapping ourselves in ourselves.

no nation is defeated

i have grown out of

cold northern muskeg

with a wooden core and paper birch skin

i know how to listen to

the memories planted in the earth from the women before me

with lessons that are hidden in my mitochondria


the hearts of its women

no woman is defeated when her heart

is in the ground

she is planting seeds to grow

future generations with connected roots

that have learned how to survive

a cold winter.

are on the ground.









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