Today’s poem is “My Shadow Follows” by Rita Joe, who was a Micmac poet and songwriter. She was born on Cape Breton Island and lived in East Bay, Nova Scotia until her death in 2007. She was the author of Poems of Rita Joe, L’nu and Indians We’re Called, Songs of Eskasoni, and We are the Dreamers Recent and early poems (Breton Books). She was awarded the Order of Canada. She began writing poetry after her children came home from grade school with homework that she thought was derogatory in its depiction of native people.
My Shadow Follows
by Rita Joe
The drumsong fills the air
I dance as my heart fills with happiness.
My joy I give to others in sprit
Who need but are unable to express.
The ban still in place, put there long ago
Naming it pagan, they did not understand
My native word for God
Kisu’lkw (the One who made us)
I have had knowledge since the beginning.
That is why I looked to the sun
He shows himself as light
A beautiful light, no name only voice
We are part of the creation, the gentle
That is why I feel joy
My shadow follows, the revelation in place.
as the drumsong fills the air
There was a reason for the writing.
My findings make me cry,
The tears sweet.
And the inspiration I do not leave,
Until I am no more but in the light.
This is the gift I am learning from.
Copyright 1999 by Rita Joe from We are the Dreamers Recent and Early Poetry (Breton Books 1999)