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I Am All These | Mary Tallmountain

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This poem was included in IPM's January 2024 Newsletter.

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I Am All These

I am a beaver lounging

on the bank at Nulato River

my ebon claws clutch a round woods cabbage.

Dagger teeth rip crisp green bites.

Nutbrown eyes watch Indians

paddle upriver in a dory.

I am the tough spruce paddle.

Hardly do I disturb the quiet tide.

In the rower’s grip I sidle along the bank.

The Indian whispers to his children:

“Don’t bother beaver

when he’s eating.”

I am a fat black mosquito.

I buzz around the father’s neck.

He flicks the lines of sweat,

swipes at me, hollers, “Go away!”

Sun hangs, a bloody flower;

Scorched willows wait sadly for rain.

I am a snowflake. I drift

into the dappled green depths

of Mother Yukon

with a thousand others.

We melt and mingle,

dancing the ancient circles.

I am all these.

Mary Tallmountain

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