“For the people. For my daughters. For the seven generations to come. I’ve been given a great responsibility to care for our relations. I live a good life!” On October 6th, 2020, Stacy Gallagher (GitchiMakwa, MakwaIndodem) posted this to Facebook hours before being sentenced to 28 days in prison for praying, singing, and holding ceremony in resistance to Trans Mountain’s pipeline expansion project (TMX).
White people have room to improve. To do that, we need to stop dissolving in our white-settler guilt.
While attending a Cancel Canada Day protest — an Indigenous-led demonstration in opposition to the settler-colonial state of so-called Canada— beneath high-rise buildings on unceded Skwxwú7mesh, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm territories (downtown Vancouver, BC), I noticed a common sign held by several other white protestors in the crowd. It read: “I understand that I will never understand, but here I stand.”
I’d seen this message before. In the weeks leading up to Cancel “Canada” Day, I’d attended protests responding to the recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and more generally to the on-going murder of Black people at the hands of the police in the so-called United States. The same sign, “I understand that I will never understand, but here I stand,” was held high—albeit meekly—by white people in the crowd. …
Seth Leach wakes up at 3am to milk the cows. A typical day’s work on the farm is about fourteen hours, and dairy cows need to be milked at least every twelve. For Seth to call it quits before dusk, his days start well before dawn. Before his employees arrive, Seth plans out the day’s fieldwork and makes his rounds through the barn: attaching tentacle-like milking machines to teats, shoveling manure, restocking feed, and seeing if any of his 120 cows need antibiotics — to prevent that, he works hard to keep their barn clean, dry, and safe. …
I left the city to expand my circle of compassion — for the always magnificent land- and seascapes of coastal British Columbia, for unfamiliar milieus therein, but mostly, for myself.
I’m falling in love with someone. I’ll spare whoever reads this from soliloquies of romantic prose (you’re welcome). Besides, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m not here to talk about love. In Rainer M. Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke tells a young reader — an aspiring writer, “Do not write love poems.” Poetry or prose, I heed Rilke’s advice. …
heavy upon the Land
— lifted by rising sun.
the (farmed) flora’s dew bore no burden with its weight
to the soil beneath it, which drank it: where the microbes
alive in their Matter; more movement in moisture.
sweltering for us who toil, gladly, together, enduring day,
knowing from yesterdays
that soon noon will bake.
but breezes come, and complement
— in correspondence — pouring pores.
from clearing to canopy cover,
a perhaps — more sustainable — reprieve
in cool, still, shade.
but if there: hearing, seeing, knowing clearing’s wind
without feeling its gusts. …
“…But I’ve no spade to follow men like them. Between my finger and my thumb, the squat pen rests. I’ll dig, with it.”
— Seamus Heaney, “Digging” from Death of a Naturalist.
Digging is writing, writing is digging. Each are approached with ambition — often in tandem with false confidence — and each are only finished when your gut tells you it’s ‘good enough’.
You’re standing up straight, head hung, eyes scanning the earth below your feet. Like Heaney’s father, you grip a spade — a shovel — for potatoes. Or maybe, like I once did, you hold a large 4-pronged fork — for carrots. Either way, you’re setting out to sink that tool into the earth, pull it back out, displace soil and sustenance, again, and again, and again. When digging, it takes time to find your rhythm, but it comes. Yet as good as rhythm may be for efficiency, it’s no good if not with precision. You’ve got to harvest as many potatoes, or as many carrots, as you can; but they should be in tact, and palatable. This is akin to writing. It takes time for prose to flow, and it comes. …