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  • ©2019 Kenneth S. Cohen

Gratitude to the Four Winds

Photo taken at Manitou Lake, Saskatchewan, Cree Territory

Written in honor of Niwiciwakan

[Words in brackets below are in Cree.]

Long ago, crying for a vision, A Hawk landed on a tree At arms length from my Fasting Place Flew off to Sakastenohk [East] I heard a voice, “Now you are like this young Hawk But soon you will be like us Look Up!” And there were two large Hawks Sâkwahtamow [Hawk] Flying high above the snow peaks.

They spoke to my Soul, My Ahcahk [Soul], which like them Is both within and above With the Ahcahkosak [Stars].

Did I ever become that Hawk? I don’t know, but the vision has guided me And the responsibility remains: Live in a way the honors The trust bestowed by Nimosômak, Nôhkomak [My Grandfathers, My Grandmothers] Of Many Nations, Okâwîmâwaskiy [Mother Earth], And my Nêhiyaw [Cree] family.

I grew under the light of Sâwanohk [South] A tree with twists and turns Some beautiful, some ugly. Pahksimotahk [West] encouraged me To release the old day To sink into the dark unknown Like the setting sun, And there, like Maskwa [Bear], To find my dreams.

I used to worry that Kiwetinohk [North] would notice me; Life had brought enough tests, Cold winds that froze my limbs Though never my heart or spirit. But now that my white hair matches his Kiwetinohk and I will are old friends And I don’t mind his gaze at all!

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