huk’an gųą [fireweed] 


The ground still smolders 

Flames lick the remaining trees, now posts

Raw

Standing stoic on the land

Blackened burns sting to the touch

Igniting memories that dance around us in the smoke

Ash smudged on our faces

Making us dirty with their gaze

They try to wash us away

Wholly

Water dripping off our cheeks

Tears released to soothe burning tongues

Branded with the mark of a foreign-speaking god

Life as it was, cremated before our eyes

We are witnesses 

With charred roots

Distant and unrecognizable to each other

Ash floats around us, dusting the warm soil 

Incubating all that remains buried beneath the destruction 

Heat that once left scars now kindles awakening 

Below the surface

Held within the depths of our mother

Earth cradles our beginning

As it radiates towards the core

Tethering itself to life as it was

Only once firmly bound to the source 

True liberation 

Surfaces for the first time 

Again 

Its ascent stems from the deepest knowing 

Determined to emerge unscathed

Shooting upwards toward limitlessness, it unfurls 

Appendages reoccupying space some considered empty and forgotten

Drenched in love and light 

Inherent patterns of reciprocity wake, rejuvenated

And begin cycling nourishment through kindred

Pathways of interconnection 

Inertia stands idle 

A paid witness of our collective mobility 

Shared consciousness, turned active

Culminates in pure beauty

We glow magenta 

Vivacity radiating from our inner depths 

Sheer will births the first fruits

Encapsulating longevity and continuance

Multitudes of new beginnings prepare to take flight

Outfitted for the longest of journeys 

Each a minute record of all that was

And all that can be

We are released


Lianne Charlie  is a  Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation. Her poem is titled ” huk’an gųą “, which means fireweed in Northern Tutchone. Her poem uses fireweed and its growing patterns as a metaphor for the story of her people, their experiences with (continued) colonialism and their revitalization.