© 2017 Kenneth S. Cohen

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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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