For Annie Pootoogook
I swam summer in Rideau River
where you were found a few days ago.
Back when sun held promise,
before leaves became shapeshifters.
since you’re gone.
You died three thousand miles
away from Kinngait.
Newspapers don’t call
your small body was taken by river.
Your drawings took many of us,
far from the colonial imaginary
observers of Coleman stoves
into intimate spaces,
tents in living rooms
whalings and matchbox houses.
portraits of life’s complexities.
Family moments, abusive relationships,
a pencil, a bra, a wood stove.
Pencil crayon-coloured drawings,
sketching every day rawness.
Curators imagine you swimming
laced with Sedna, Arctic mother of the sea.
Together, your fingernails are growing more
walruses and whales.
You’re no longer drowning,
floating on your back.
Your body wrapped in seal skin
your bones warmed by a fire keeper.
You’re spirit fierce,
dancing with Northern Lights,
drinking in vast night colours.