by Trace A. DeMeyer - MMNN Contributor
Wise wonderful Mi’kmaq Elder-poet Alice M. Azure has done it again – a lively lovely collection of poems in Games of Transformation, a follow up to her first collection, In Mi’kmaq Country: Selected Poems and Stories (2007).
What pluck to have a Mi’kmaq Metis Elder living in the Shadows of Cahokia, the ancient ruins of the mound builders situated in what is called Illinois and Missouri. Adept and alert, Azure’s respect for place brings the Spirit of Red Cedar to her dream. In Red Cedar’s Sign, she channels, “…You know our layout of majestic mounds bespoke mathematics tuned to the stars, people attending to their sun, waiting on Heaven for instruction…”
This collection is a gift, a reminder to respect the ancient in the places we walk and sleep, to tread lightly and to offer our deepest gratitude to those we no longer meet with our eyes.
Unlike modern ruin-diggers and stargazers, Azure summons the spirit of place in Cahokia at Dusk, “…out of the shadows surrounding Great Plaza, drum groups appear… From the Southeastern corner of Monk’s Mound a man summons all dancers – calls for the Snake Dance to begin…” The reader is transformed for this lost civilization which has no other means to be understood.
An archeologist of spirit and story, Azure recalls the violence of Indian-on-Indian in her poem Cahokia Mound 72 while paying respects to Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash and Johnny Moore, both Native activists from the East Coast, executed by the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1970s.
In her book’s 55 pages, poetry offers a rare glimpse into the lives of Cahokia’s Old Ones. She prays in Cahokia Collects and Responses, “…Forgive us our dreadful judgment allowing depredation of our ancestor’s graves…I am the bones of a thousand years put to rest purposefully… Allow me more peace for another thousand years…”
In the section “Suffer our Children,” the grandmother has messages for New Ones in her own family, such as the solemn “August Offerings and “The Delightful Yankee Ingenuity.”
Azure, the poetic Illinois transplant, is never far from her Mi’kmaq home in her heart.
Inquiries and book orders, contact Azure at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trace A. DeMeyer (Cherokee) is author of One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects and writes the blog: www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com. She freelances for News from Indian Country and other publications and lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Her email: email@example.com.Tags: books, poetry