The Grandmothers returned after over 2000 years
and went straight to the Museum.
They sat in the archives. History parted
around them like a paper sea.
Their hair ran in grey and white streaks
down to their feet. It lay about them like lightning,
electric. Their skin hung off of them
like thin, uncooked dough,
but their eyes had seen everything
and shone wet like black stones.
They left loose hairs in the Jesuit Relations,
in Father Lejeune’s old journals,
they rooted themselves into the ink,
and left the words shapeshifting.
Dandruff fell from their heads like seeds
into the folds of old government documents,
the yellowed birth and marriage certificates
that disinherited them,
letters from Indian Agents,
letters from Duncan Campbell Scott.
Eyelashes and dead skin cells wedged into the pages.
New stories sprouted like grass through pavement.
As the salvage dropped from their bodies
they became young once again. Light and timeless
they sat on top of an old map of Quebec,
hand drawn by Samuel de Champlain,
but wired into their DNA.
Drunk on words, their sweat
blurred his topography. In a frenzy of tongues
their stories climaxed together.
The Grandmothers’ panted breaths
ran down the pages of history like wind,
loosened and scattered the words and documents,
chased the past down the streets of Ottawa.
They left the museum in disarray
they left behind breath,
spit, blood, and pulse.
They left behind drenched words
and a steady round heartbeat.
Now Grandmother whispers in my ears
opens her skin like a door
we sit together
around a blood fire
you are time
you are a map.