The Picture Lived
You’d think by now I’d cease to be amazed
How Cree I am in aspects of my days.
It’s new to me, at conscious level now,
This kid’s big shift from family roots somehow.
In countless ways I stand alone in life
Not fitting in, I sail on waters rife
With endless whitecaps far as eye can see
Raised high then driven deep in stormy seas.
It’s been that way of course most of my life
Except before no clue the source of strife.
At least right now I know just where to look –
It’s not, believe me, in some scholars’ book.
So quickly now the Cree side rises up
To consciousness when e’er the way gets rough.
I see then how assumptions deep in me –
This Creenglishman – in fact for me are Cree.
Yet English too, and that’s the puzzling part
I notice not, somehow in life and art;
For that’s the part of life that normal seems
But interspersed with episodes of Cree.
The picture rose so fast when first I saw
The squiggled line the teacher had us draw
With eyes all closed until she gave the word
As per directions given – which we all heard.
Like watching clouds as kids there on our backs;
Or like the Rorschach test with ink-blots black;
And photo-exercise to freshen view
As function drops and design rises new.
And so a second step for photos home
From exile’s place to here, no more to roam.
The first through color, form, a bit of line
And now fresh sight from chaos to sublime.
Instead of photo work’s return as whole
Each aspect of it’s art which plays a role
Is coming home, at end we’ll see what’s left;
And here: communication style – what’s best?
The boy’s excitement rose to frenzied pitch
Then stopped abruptly as his hopes got ditched
Left standing there on-looking flag in hand
Those greener pastures yet a far-off land.
His face I felt (it’s features turned) although
I could not render that, as skill was low,
But in its first full impact in design
Raised hidden fears from sixty years that’s mine.
I pushed on through regardless of the pain
I want this stress resolved, and future gained
I’m tired of rising high in stormy seas
Then feeling drown my high expectancy.
She asked what I would take to home this week
From art and talk that helped in what I seek,
So stunned was I in shift of subject fast
I speechless was – so, for a time, I ‘passed’.
At end of circle’s input to wrap up
I’d caught my breath, so question again put
“How ’bout with you, as you’ve lived in this room
What take you home to think, at end so soon?”
Then she deferred to English ways not Cree
And in her act I, all at once, saw me
When I first lived as adult on reserve
And found my English process quite absurd.
For there all family gathered, end of day
To work together on some problem’s way
That rose in life for one amongst the clan
From tiny infant to the oldest man.
Some were quite old – through troubled life survived
And gleaned its treasure trove – now viewed as wise;
While others not – though skilled in other things
To consultation little else did bring.
But no-one ever was outside the room
Each input taken, weighed, considered soon.
I brought my training, English insight fresh,
It was accepted, weighed, just like the rest.
At last, when all was said and heard and seen
As evening closed – the group as one had been
Surrounding one whose trouble focus was –
We each assured we’d given to the cause.
In southern training in the English way
I’d come to see my self as “counsel’s stay”
Outside the group – a catalyst of sorts
So change brings on, unchanged, to all reports.
I’d never seen group therapy so bold
Which pushed us all, as every context holds
The place where any person doing life
Could find solution for their daily strife.
It’s not that each shared all their journey rough
But base assumption’s view was clear enough:
“That we all walk the journey of our lives;
No-one outside the life of group survives”.
What I’d picked up as kid those years before
As Creenglish culture now became restored
Today in class I saw more clearly how
I’ve changed and Creenglishman become right now.
No wonder I was stunned right at the end
Of class, then double stunned I was again –
First, process jarred my Creenglish point of view
Then ‘left me standing, flag with distant view’.
When academic guidance giving out
They’d come to me for help – to trouble route
Saw each distraction from their coursework was
At base uniquely fitting to their cause.
I’d say, “It’s not distraction, each of you,
It is your course, just change your point of view.
It bothers you because you stumble there
Deal with it now or later when you care –
For others in the place of work you find.
You’re tripping now because your eyes are blind.
So look around push into pain – you'll see.
Don’t skirt in life – I learned that from the Cree”.
Now I can roll with English ways or Cree
Though what I take this week that’s good for me
Is knowing which of process I prefer
E’en as right now, to others I defer.