Benediction: 'A Song for Giving Back'

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Wisconsin’s former Poet Laureate Kim Blaeser leaves us with a benediction, calling out the sacred dimension of water.


On White Earth Reservation in the northern Minnesota of my childhood, I grew up in rich water country. My family spent nearly every weekend of my early life fishing, swimming, skating, setting net, spearing, ice fishing, harvesting wild rice. We knew water as provider as well as the home of the great underwater panther, Mishibizhi. Water didn’t come from a faucet. We collected rain, pumped our drinking water from the belly of earth, or hauled it from springs in cream cans in the back of my uncle’s pickup.

Because water came through labour, we didn’t waste it. Because our life was linked to water, we knew it as a relative. Because stories told how the cycles of women and moon were tide driven, we understood Water’s power and its mythic truth.


A Song for Giving Back

The benediction of Water

begins in the holy whoosh whoosh

whoosh whoosh of womb sounds—

this ancient amniotic language

our first song. 

Like the earth afloat in a great weeping cosmos,

we fetal beings suspended in sublime liquidity.

Yes, name Water the primary principle, sacred

originating material—

sing our aqueous blood belonging. 

That the nature of all creatures is moist.

That everything is godfull and growing.

That all who hold with science or spirit

must hold also with change:

liquid to ice, ice to vapor—and back.

The benediction of Water

begins also with the whoosh whoosh of manoomin

the “food that grows on water,”

wild rice kernels falling into canoe bottoms—

into the muddy silt of becoming.

And no arid doctrine of ownership will serve

we river nymphs, minor but blessed beings

we swim if we swim at all in the flood, blood,

wine, baptism, and copper glistening resurrection

of water metaphors for our streaming lives.

Oh sweet sap of trees, oh fertile forest brine

forgive our parched longing and give it voice.

Rivers sing and we with them:

Miigwechiwi—daily make a song offering,

here flows our gratitude

In blue-scented drench of spring

Sing Spirit of Water

In narrow boats on swift flowing passageways

Sing Spirit of Water

When great lakes rush in and tides softly backstroke away

Sing Spirit of Water

As tears stutter from pain, pool and spill

Sing Spirit of Water

When the body’s fluids pulse and yearn

When the liquid vibration of voice rises upward to sky

When seeping in and seeping out meet

When the cup of eternity is full full

Of wet and holy, full full of gratitude

Sing Spirit of Water

Sing Spirit of Water

whoosh whoosh whoosh sing

Spirit of Water, whoosh.