Selections from the Upcoming Great Lakes Issue

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Photo by Travis Novitsky (www.travisnovitsky.com) of the Spirit Tree on Lake Superior, sacred to the Ojibwe.
 

POETRY BY MARGARET NOORI

in Anishinaabemowin and English translation

 

(to hear the poems in Anishinaabemowin, click here and here)

WAAWAATESEG / FIREFLIES

Aanii ezhi pagozi dibikgiizis? / How does moonlight taste?

Aanii ezhi noodin pagwad / How much does the wind weigh?

Aanii ezhi ezhichigeyaamba / What do I need to do

Ji-nsostaawaag waawaateseg / to understand the fireflies?

Jiimaanan ina n’ga pagadanan giizhigong / Throw kisses or canoes to heaven?

Maage mikzhaweyaanh gdo’wiikweodenong / Or row to a heart’s shore?

N’wii bodewaadiz gonemaa / Perhaps I will set myself alight

Miidash tonaanan shkodensan shpemsigong / then place the flames in the sky

Anongziibike minajiwong dibikong / making a river flowing through night

Miidash wii baashkaazoying dibishko / where explosions echo

Zaagigaabaag ziigwaning. / the bursting leaves of Spring.

 


N’GII ZHIBIIAMAAG NIIJAANISAG CHIGAMIGONG /

A POEM FOR THE CHILDREN OF THE GREAT LAKES

Bíonn dúil le béal farraige ach cha bhíonn dúil le béal uaighe.
There is hope from the mouth of the sea but not from the mouth of the grave.
– Ulster proverb

Chigaaming shkitoyaanh bagosendamyaanh,
In the sea I can hope
jibaaygamigong anamiyaanh chikeyaanh.
in the grave I pray alone.
Wenesh waa ezhiwebag pii baasadengak kaanan?
What happens when the bones are dried?
Pii niibishensan mitigens bid?
When the little leaves have become sticks?
Pii gokoshag taawagag ziitaaganing?
When the sow’s ears are in salt?
Maamwimaajaan ina Anishinaabemoyaanh miinwaa neseyaanh?
Do they leave together, the language and the last breath?
Enya gonemaa enya
Yes maybe yes
mii wii boonendaamaang
it will be forgotten
mii wii waanendamaadizoyaang
we will forget ourselves
pii chigaming gaawin noondoosiimaang
when we no longer hear the big waters.

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