From the Sidelines

From the sidelines
Assorted butterflies and birds
Flutter by
My great nan’s
As they sat around
Weaving flax mats
And discussing community plans
As a child, I would run around them
Fetching what was needed
Playing knuckle bones and singing
Carefree days I have never forgotten
In the heat of the day
They would find shade
Beneath ancient trees
450 years of tribal wisdom
Collectively between them
Some smoked corn-cob pipes
Stuck in the side of their mouths
As they spoke back and forth,
Others rolled pocket edition thin cigarettes
Between bent fingers from
Working long hours in the fields,
Weaving flax products, cooking,
Calloused hands of tribal women
I can still hear their chants
And spoken wisdom
In between sending me to fetch more flax
And other items
Eventually I fell asleep in my nan’s arms
Protected by tattooed ancient women
Who smiled down upon me,
Saying prayers, chanting, talking,
My little mind absorbed this valuable wisdom
Like a sponge does water
Some 45 years later, half ways around the world
I convey this wisdom to my grandchildren
The same words that have guided me
And reminded me of who I am in this world
Each night when I sleep
I return to my nan’s and play
Fluttering and flying around
Like butterflies and birds.
Not a day goes by
That I do not think of them
And what they had to say
Between knuckle bones and sleeping
In the safety of my tribal nan’s arms

Charles has been a social activist for 35 years. He can be reached at :>. Read other articles by Charles.