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Minnesota, United States
As I walk along in life, my muses dance with reflection inspiring me to release the thoughts and emotions of my pondering mind through poetry.

Prompt Poetry & Promotion page for The River

*plus the archive of my older poetry

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

~Gichigami ~

Gichigami ~

Oh powerful Nookomis!

You take my breath away
Every morning when my eyes set upon you.

One day you will be gentle and soothing
The next day you are raging with passion.

At times people fear you
At most they are in awe!

You are Nookomis to all!

Then why is respect lacking for you?
Why every day are you poisoned?
Why do people fight over what is left of you?

Oh powerful Nookomis!

Are you laughing or crying at us humans?
                                                                    ©River 1996

One of my favorite poems I wrote many years ago. I grew up on the very tip of Lake Superior in Duluth Minnesota. The lake is a big part of who I am along with my Anishinaabe/Ojibwe heritage. I use a couple of Ojibwe words in the poem. Gichigami means Lake Superior and Nookomis means grandmother. There was a battle over the big fresh water lake at the time I wrote the poem. Some Southwest States wanted the States around the lake and Canada to agree to pipe water down to them because they were running out of water. In my opinion and many others they choose to abuse their water so they could have green grass in desert conditions and other reasons. We did not go for it. I have no idea what they ended up doing with their water shortage.

~ ~
A friend asked me this question.  

I was wondering about the initial line “Oh powerful Nookomis!”… in my cultural view “grandmother” is wise and gentle….so I didn’t fully understand the line…but that is my weakness not the poems…which was well crafted. Would you mind expanding on your intent with that phrase?

I guess to start, I should explain water is female and animate in our cultural view. Nookomisag or grandmothers are wise, strong, and gentle. They are the teachers and traditionally were part of the council. “Oh Powerful Nookomis” Lake Superior is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. It is part of the St Lawrence Sea Way and the huge ocean liners carrying loads follow the water trail dropping off cargo on their way to Duluth. A bunch of those ships lie on the floor of the lake. The storms are intense. Once a friend and I were knocked down by a wave that crashed against the shore rocks walking on a boardwalk. My old dog that was 110 pounds got away in time but we were on the ground soaked. That is on shore. Anyways, Lake Superior is a Grandmother and very powerful. “Oh Powerful Nookomis” 
On other days, her beauty delights nourishing with peaceful bliss. I feel spiritually woken. I absorb her unconditional love and feel renewed by her waters. Miigwech!

One Stop Poetry- One Shot Wednesday
posted for week 19
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moondustwriter said...

I love the language and culture that you integrate into the poem. It adds that sense of oneness with nature which this piece conveys; yet man fails to understand.

a wistful and powerful One

thanks from the Moon

Brian Miller said...

nice. the poem is that much more by understanding your commentary..i think too a wise decision was made...nice one shot!

dustus said...

I know the beauty and raging power of Lake Superior from the Michigan side.. when living so close to such natural wonder, it is difficult to image why people would ever want to disrespect it. Nice One Shot!

Hope said...

stirred some powerful emotions in me. Written so beautifully. Wonderful photo! I can see how that can take your breath away.

glad i found you on One Shot

thank you for sharing

Anonymous said...

This is beautifully lyrical and a great statement about respecting water

TALON said...

It seems the disrespect is lacking still...and it's heartbreaking. But your poem is lovely.

I'm glad you used Nookomis - I think it's totally befitting the subject.

signed...bkm said...

I was raised in Minnesota...know this lady well, her power is a mystical state in its own right...and poetry lives within her woods and waters....I understand why you feel close to this piece of poetry...bkm

faith said...

Such a beautiful and truly fascinating post. The image is amazing.

River said...

Miigwech~Thank you!

wanderer and vagabond said...

River....the poem will stand the test of time---you have successfully sealed moments in it with your poetic skill.

Steve said...

Powerful lament and celebration (of sorts). Good work.

June_Butterfly said...

Your using ojibwe words was truly was a wise one.It gave a natural flow to your poem.And it's so good to read and at the same time learn from other people's work.

The photo you used was just beautiful.SO sad though that there are still so much disrespect for nature.

Great one shot!Thak you for sharing!

Shashi said...

Its very beautiful... I liked it so much.. thanks for sharing...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter: @VerseEveryDay

Eric Alder said...

Wonderful One Shot, River! You captured that timeless quality that nature carries in all her guises. I feel the sense of relationship between people and that great lake whose power is matched only by its beauty.

(I live in Michigan and have swam in all the Great Lakes - they are a part of me)

Desert Rose said...

beautiful..:) i am so much related to water..lakes..this touched me deeply! love it..:)

Beachanny said...

I know Duluth but not in winter. I love your work and your writing. I hear the plea to stop defiling nature. We must be responsible as what we do comes back on us. Thank you for the enlightening exposition as well. Thank you so much, Gay @beachannny

Pete Marshall said...

i loved was the language, the history & the commentary..the whole package was for me perfect...thanks oete

River said...

thank you everyone. :)

River said...

I want to recommend a book about the study of water from Masaru Emoto called Messages from Water. It reinforced beliefs I have plus taught me a world about water.

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