A poem by Margaret Noodin
On November 5, 2020, as voters waited for the results of the largest election in the history of the commonwealth, while the number of cases of COVID-19 rose to 9.7 million in the United States and 235,000 people were mourned by their loved ones, Naomi Shihab Nye shared the following poem in New York Times Magazine. She wrote: “Who knows what will happen? Where will we land? How will we spend the winter? Count on an owl to fulfill its destiny. Margaret Noodin’s new collection, What the Chickadee Knows, part of the Great Lakes Books Series, is an exquisite bilingual journey of languages and observations “situated between the traditions of the past … and the innovation needed for survival into the future.” As in this slim, strong poem, meditating on the world around and beyond our human doings offers respite, deeper time. Note the movements of snow, cold and wind and the flapping of great wings. We are incidental in their precious stories.”
The poem appeared in English only which was truly an honor, but here it is in full, in the language in which it was conceived, driven by the alliteration of winter words and recorded so those who do not speak Anishinaabemowin can hear the sounds the owls of Anishinaabewakiing have heard humans speaking for thousands of years.
Boonipon apii biboong miidash dakaanimad odishiwe daashkikwaading
Boonitamaang madwezigoshkaag miinawaa bizindaamangidwaa wewenjiganoozhiinhyag
Boonigidetaadiwag mii maajii-aamiwaad epiichi makwamiiwaagamaag
Booniiwag enaazhi-zhingobiiwaadikwanan nanegaaj waaboozwaagonagaag
Boonam gegapii miidash boonendang aki biinish bookoshkaag
When it stops snowing in winter and deep cold arrives to crack the ice
We stop hearing the freezing then listen for the great horned owls
They forgive one another and begin to mate while the world is frozen
Landing on pine branches as snow falls gently in large flakes
Eventually she lays an egg then ignores the world until it breaks
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