My father carved this storyknife
For me when I was just a girl.
See how the curved ivory fits my hand,
Guides my thoughts, gives stories to tell
You, daughter of my daughter,
Who wears her labrets in a woman's way.
Watch my knife draw shapes in the mud,
Two more lines and brother whale appears.
When he speaks my knife listens,
I will not be caught unless women
keep silent and obey the men.
My storyknife moves on,
Finds sea lion sunning on a rock.
Hears his warning words to women,
When you bleed, stay apart.
If you breathe on men, animals
hide from hunters.
Elders in the past walked here,
Knew the truths, lived the stories
My knife tells,
I am like a braided river
carrying water from glaciers
across great beds of sand and gravel
to the sea. My lines merge, diverge,
always bringing life to earth.
Published in The Poet’s Domain
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