There are those days when I open my eyes and I don’t feel as red as I ought to.
I don’t feel as human as I ought to.
I don’t feel as alive as I ought to.
Those days when the sun spills through my cheap, flimsy curtain and pours onto my body —
My mind feels uneasy and tired from fighting.
And I know
And I know
And I know that I am going to have to fight this day.
Fight to keep my mind together like a broken refrigerator magnet when the glue wears off or the
strength dies and it just slides down to the bottom.
A broken orange letter sitting near the dust.
I am one with the inanimate objects.
As I don’t feel animate.
The city noises infect my pores and dance in my eardrums, running up the aching veins and bloodstreams to my brain.
I can close my eyes and be —
I can be
I can be with the trees
My friends and counterparts of rough birch bark, soggy driftwood, sticks and branches pulling at my hair
and scratching my skin but my skin is itchy and it needs that scratch.
And no one has touched my hair in a while.
The solidarity of stones rumble from my ancestors’ bellies and the mouths of strong rivers spit along
banks that hold my feet so heavy
My body so heavy
My body is large like the lake
Like the lake
You could swim in my copper skin and cough on my memories
Choke and die on my trauma
My trauma like sandbanks rise to the top, ankle deep with that drop off so close that you can’t feel safe
My body like the lake, my trauma like the water, will envelope and suffocate you.
Like it does me
This water has come before and before.
Like a waterfall, keeps cycling with poison that was placed here long before this body came to be
This poison has burrowed itself so deep into my blood cells, I can’t tear it out
I can’t vomit up my past or my Mother’s past or my Grandmother’s past or her Mother’s past.
I can’t project it out of my system.
And so it sits and festers
Like mould in a fruit bowl
Infecting the other fruits with its soft and disarming touch
And I dream
I dream of this water sucking me dry and filling me up new
And every part of me — blood and brain and all — will sing with the buzzing of insects and the fluttering of
wings beating against my ribcage, dancing on my cheeks and fingertips — filling my dewy and trickled
body with the glow of every creature crawling on the forest floor and swimming in the waterways and
spinning in the air.
And I will feel safe to return to the sugar bush, sap filled, smoke sweat sweet sage survival of my bloodline.
And I will be.
And when I open my eyes and find myself
Still searching for myself
Still searching for where I am in that broken magnet
Lying on the floor in the dust
And city dirt
I prepare myself for another battle
Armour myself with all that keeps the poison buried and covered
Medicine in my heart
Knowing that there is something stronger welling in my blood
My feet on the earth
I go out and fight
Yolanda Bonnell is an emerging performer and playwright of Ojibwe and South Asian descent, hailing from Fort William First Nation Indian Reserve in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She is a graduate of Humber College’s theatre performance program where she was the recipient of the Board of Governor’s Achievement Award. Yolanda was also a part of Factory Theatre’s The Foundry a creation program for new career writers, where her play, Scanner was being developed. Her one woman physical theatre show bug, directed by Cole Alvis, premiered at Native Earth’s Weesageechak Begins to Dance 28 and at the 37th annual Rhubarb Festival in 2016 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and then went on to have a workshop residency at Summerworks 2016.