Mom tells the story of how
you didn’t barge in, how
you waited until the other guy
didn’t even know what he had lost,
how you told him
you were an opportunist
moving in where others leave room.
You saw the space,
saw lots of room for living.
êkwa ita ka-wîkihk.
You asked her and she said, “Yes.”
There you were, the two of you,
your life to fashion together.
Lots of room, but no directions,
so off you went stepping gently,
leaving just enough of a trace
and just enough room
for others to follow.
Along we all came, your children,
grandchildren, foster children,
cats, kittens, too many to count,
even a bird or two once or twice:
you and Mom cleared a space
for all of us.
kiya êkwa nikâwînân ê-kî-tawinamawiyâhk.
There was so much space around me
I couldn’t see it
until, your circle complete,
you made more space.
ayiwâk nawac kikî-tawinikân.
There was room in your mind
for this Cree language
for this Cree culture
êkwa ôma nêhiyaw-isîhcikêwin,
but I didn’t hear you.
Too busy, I wasn’t listening.
ê-kî-otamihoyân êkosi môya
Now, I wish I could have seen
and heard more,
anohc êkwa pitanê ka-kî-wâpahtamân
mîna ka-kî-pêhtamân ayiwâk kîkway,
wish I could have been more open
to your special way of living,
nimihtâtên êkâ ê-kî-nâkatôhkêyân
What do you think of me, Dad,
writing this in Cree?
Could there have been more room
for a Cree conversation,
for a Cree understanding,
for a daughter’s understanding
her father’s honour
in the space between, tâwâyihk,
your childhood and your passing.
Is it enough that I’ve
cleared a space on my desk
to light this candle for you?
Would that I could
have made more room.
pitanê ayiwâk ka-kî-tawinamâtân.