In Memory of Biidwebiisaaban (The Sound of Rain Coming)
For Gisele and Robin
The whole thing is wrong.
The small white coffin on the table,
shiny as a doll’s bed, two feet long,
harbors a baby.Biidwebiisaaban should have been feeling
better by now, his cold all gone. The drum
booms and echoes in the sunlit dining hall.
He should be taking a napat this time of the afternoon.
The singers, his aunties and uncles, should be smiling,
not weeping, as they file past him.
Their arms emptied, his mom and dadcling to each other for life
now that he is gone.
We pray that he will find his way
to the spirit world, where his grandmasand grandpas await him. They will know
which toys he likes best, how he likes
his belly rubbed, and they will give him
buckskin to chew on, as he is still teething.
Copyright © 2018 by Elizabeth Tornes
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Elizabeth Tornes has published three chapbooks: Between the Dog and the Wolf, winner of the Five Oaks Press Winter Chapbook Prize (2016); New Moon (2013, Finishing Line Press, New Women’s Voices winner); and Snowbound (Giiwedin Press, 2011, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poetry Chapbook Contest First Prize winner). She has also published a collection of Ojibwe oral histories, Memories of Lac du Flambeau Elders (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004) and lives in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin.
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