typee She loves heartwood smoke , it’s medicine

and she walks with it through the rooms of our house

and when I come home,

the  sweetness  of the smoke revives my  prayer.

“Smoke doesn’t give her gift only to some,

forgiveness and healing is for all.”


The white man and red man where meant to walk together.

Historical trauma and unfelt grief

keep us unreceptive,

like hard packed land that won’t take in a seed.


These words are from  Braiding Sweetgrass  (pg. 207)

“After all these generations since Columbus,

some of the wisest elders

still puzzle over the people who came to our shores.

They look at the toll on the land and say,

“The problem with these new people

is that they don’t have both feet on the shore.

One  is still on the boat.

They don’t  seem to know whether they are staying or not.”

Perhaps our relentlessly materialist culture

is the fruit of homelessness, a rootless past.

For the sake of the peoples and the land,

the urgent work may be to set aside the ways of the colonist

and become indigenous to place.

But can Americans, as a nation of immigrants,

learn to live here as if we were staying.

With both feet on the shore?










2 thoughts on “Smoke

  1. I was just having a dinner conversation tonight w/ friends about “indigenosity”. The concept of a place-based existence. And how that concept can extend into vocation-based existence. A few months ago I reconciled some insecurities I have wrestled with in recent years about my work. I would question myself – “is this really what you want to keep doing?”, “look at your peers and their sexy jobs…you should change for change’s sake”. I have become clear in myself that hands-on work is what I want to do to the end. It is who I am. It is my land. Humanity is my land. I plant both of my feet on its shore.


  2. I’m sorry, but it’s hard for me to love my ancestors; the ones who made it over here back at the beginning of this country and to not to think of them as invaders. At least today, we could – and should – do so much more than we do to repay the indigenous people for their country.


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