a steadfast soul-birth, tried and true / this is where you sing creation into being
kokenewapikineyak horizon blush
self-portrait as my mourning breath
this is where you lay to dream
picking sage, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee
self-portrait as the land is your lover
this is where you sing creation into being
counting down the sunsets until you can go back to the land that raised you
Editor’s Note: Tarene Thomas’s “RATIONING SWEETGRASS” places the Cree language in a poetic context in order to do the work of self-making. The oft-used “self-portrait” frame is operationalized differently here, however—not in order to sculpt a singular “I” but rather to put the poet in relation with the larger world, the past, and current and future ancestors. Thomas’s lyric voice is soft and multi-vocal and ultimately returns us to the land, a task as urgent and life-sustaining as ever.
Tarene Thomas is a Cree, Gitxsan, Tahltan, and Haisla writer from Enoch Cree Nation and the Northwest Coast of B.C. She holds a BA from the University of Alberta, an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and is currently studying in the Master of Journalism program at UBC. Her work examines the world through an Indigenous feminist lens, whilst critiquing the institutions she works inside of. Tarene fuses together the personal and political while telling stories of sadness, joy, rebellion, and refusal.
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