1.

 

Your body is your temple,

is what preachers

used to tell me,

standing behind wooden pulpits,

in black suits and ties:

men who spoke words

from a bible written

in a language that stemmed

from tongues that

weren’t my peoples’

instead of Cree, we got

Greek and Hebrew

translated into King James

English, a language

forced onto my relations

for hundreds of years

by priests, nuns,

and governments

in white skins.

 

2.

 

To my mind, they spoke

hatred of my culture,

told me to be afraid

of the dreamcatchers

above my bed, said

these four things were evil:

sweetgrass, sage, tobacco, cedar.

They taught me to fear

my elders, the ones

who knew the old ways,

until finally my body

learned to feel dread

at the smoke that rose

from the slow burn

of medicine, and to fear

the smell that filled

my torn and aching

brown body.  

 

3.

 

When I realized

those spoken lies

divided and conquered

my body with violent

language appropriated

by white men

who stole a culture

to oppress another—

I understood my body

was colonized by foreign words—

and that’s when my spirit

whispered to me,

Your body is your earth,
Your body is your earth.

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