I am a poet. I am a water protector. I’m also a being with memory. An enormous watershed of memory. I’m also a white person in America evaluating the values I hold. Better to evaluate how I Walk, not what I say. the Value of values.
I have a responsibility to evaluate all the manifestations of white supremacy, cisgender domination, patriarchy, water-hoarding and greed. This means the mess will reveal itself. I am implicated. I am responsible.
In this golden unraveling, the greater good will protect/project us from our conditioned needs to nurture the ground where our crisp egos steal sunlight into a calibrated chasm of death-fear, myopia and dilapidated oceans.
Babies of all beings emerge daily
kicking with a pulse
sucklings cooing with newborn song
Will they free themselves and us from this endless clamoring
this constant hoarding?
This oil-song we feel submissive to
This song is dying
And so is the chorus
I’m hoping the water in our blood will free the locking silence in our hearts
It’s OK to end things and walk away from things and get loud about things and be strategic about things over water.
It’s ok to be in lockstep with the river you were born to, from and near
This water is not my water to own
To hold To poison
To disregard To disobey
Some think it’s the corporations
Some think it’s the banks holding a human pulse swifter than the river or the lake.
This is a dangerous perspective
I know the living. I know the dead.
The rivers are living
We walk as if our legs are defibrillators
We walk as if the earth lives at our mercy
Each step a reminder of the power
the power of our actions
But we live because the earth lives and the earth sweats and the earth cries
The earth laughs and dances with water and the wind
We all return
Some think it’s about seeming good and not doing good
Some think water will become important when there is no more of it
Do you see what we are doing?
What implores your walking/waking action?
What instills a rooted bravery?
How can we find ways to lift our voices and make room?
The river has something to say
The river has something to say
Will we find a core inertia celebrating and honoring this water
falling with gravity, falling with sound, falling with memory, falling with responsibility? Falling into ourselves?
This is what a paradigm shift looks like
This is is a transition
This is a different way to be
I grew up near Lake Erie, the Niagara River and Niagara Falls
Have you heard your song lately? The song of your water-blood heart?
What is it like to walk with a mirror collapsing your face/reflecting your body?
What is it like to live in retraction?
What is it like to change because Water is Life?
What is it like to refuse because Water is Life?
What is it like to remember because Water is Life?
What is it like to not move because Water is Life?
*Liz Mariani is a water protector poet and teaching artist who lives near a body of fresh water and many rivers. Contact Liz at PoetryXlass@gmail.com for performance or workshop inquiries.
In the chapbook titled before the stone shatters and leather bindings break by tawahum justin bige writes about another perspective on the life of a water protector poet. Here’s an excerpt from the poem “Warrior-Poet”:
“We work and toil on Burnaby Mountain for community,
blockade roads, plant trees, delay the jobs. Their obsession
with jobs has us tense, rage in our chest, constantly tested.
When glow-in-the-dark-vested police officers arrest with
criminal impunity and we can’t do anything, a stirring quiet
vibrates between water protectors.”
tawahum justin bige continues:
Plummets on watchhouse floor—please
breathe, please. You’re needed.”
*Tawahum aka North Star aka Justin Bige is a Lutsel K’e Dene and Plains Cree poet who resides on unceded Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish territory colonially-known-as Vancouver. Published in Red Rising Magazine, Oratorealis and Pulp Magazine, Tawahum’s poetry stokes the sacred fire of resurgence and decolonization on occupied Turtle Island. Their writing deeps into the valleys of healing intergenerational trauma, up the rocky cliffs of reconnecting with culture and against the solid concrete city streets of colonization. They’ve featured on stages including Talking Stick, Verses, and Drum-is-Calling festivals. In their 3rd year of studies toward a BA in Creative Writing at KPU in BC, Tawahum hopes to publish a book of poetry by his graduation in 2019. They invite you to join them on a journey that is both emotionally personal and deeply political.
*You can purchase this moving and necessary chapbook for $10-15 by contacting Tawahum Justin Bige via firstname.lastname@example.org You can watch and listen to the power of Tawahum’s talent by searching for audio and videos online. Tawahum Justin Bige is water protector poet you should know.
The world needs water protector poets.