This is not a march she says.
This is a walk, each step a prayer.
Her words a kind reminder in the voice of the ancestors
who knew the earth as Mother, the sky as Father.
This re-emerging language of native friends
who spot a sinuous cloud crossing the face of Grandmother Moon
and call it Protective Serpent.
This re-imagined way with words—
pipe evoking peace, not bombs,
relative relaxing the moment of greeting,
kin or stranger, no matter from where or from whom.
All were welcomed to Standing Rock,
home for months to water protectors, sacred-site defenders,
indigenous people converging from every forgotten place.
Dakota, Lakota, Sioux, and more-than-enough-more names
to make this the largest gathering of native nations
for over a hundred years.
Irresistible, this call to come together, drum together,
sing, cook, circle together on land now also of burying together
Irrepressible, the visions. New ways of being together
on land long consecrated by ceremony,
then violently desecrated by greed, misnamed as need.
Water is sacred they teach us. Ancient wisdom,
calling into question all doing done in the name of destiny,
in the name of progress, in the name of resources,
in the name of mine, in the name of My God!
Poetry came late to Anita’s life as she moved into retirement from her job as a social worker at SF General Hospital. “Renaming this Life” arose from transforming encounters with Older Writers at the Bernal Heights Library and with indigenous activists working to heal the planet in the face of ecological devastation.
Constance Louie-Handelman completed her A.A. degree at CCSF in 1973. Now retired as a clinical psychologist, she has returned to CCSF 2019 spring semester with a focus on digital photography.