|Savage out of the Indian 12″x9″ mixed media on paper|
Grandmother grew up there, the skeleton of a brick building where ghosts peered out from darkened windows. I saw it before it was demolished. St. Michael’s Indian Residential School. Her hands that clasped together in prayer rapped the top of a grandchild’s head with fierceness that degraded the soul, beat her child son with unchopped wooden blocks in uncontrollable rage. The same hands left my father tied to the kitchen table for the day to teach him a lesson. From the mouth that prayed prayers of absolution and forgiveness words as weapons tore child hearts and minds with bitterness and shame.
And you ask me to soften it.
Alcoholism and rape, rage and violence, dehumanization is the fruit we eat. While you gather at the church hall table discussing what could be done, while you count the money and say it is too expensive, while you group together in illusions of safety. Salt in clumps, fused together with judgment and condemnation for that which exposes your sense of powerlessness.
And you ask me to soften it. Soften the impact of bad medicine?
Grandmother left more than anguish and rage. She left orca strength, dreams of soapberries, hands that find grain of fish, stories of clamshell trails, whistles and songs that waken one from spells, a need to gather pieces to light a fire that will warm the village.
Be the salt. Sea salt that softens, breaks down rage and anger by being with the meat of life.