Abenaki poet Carol Bachofner’s new book is out!–thanks to the inimitable Joe and Jesse Bruchac (Abenaki), and their publishing venture, Bowman Books.
This is Carol’s fourth book, and in many ways the most overtly “Native” (raising the whole question, of course, of what makes poetry “Indian.” I have heard Carol say that if she wrote that shopping list, it’s an Abenaki shopping list.)
Daughter of the Ardennes Forest (2007) was a slim but powerful chapbook honoring her father’s military service. Breakfast at the Brass Compass (2009) paid tribute to a favorite cafe in Carol’s hometown of Rockland and the landscapes nearby. I Write in the Greenhouse (2011), also place-based, contains more poems about Maine and its people, including Andrew Wyeth and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Bachofner likes themed collections, and in Native Moons, Native Days, she turns to her Abenaki family, history, culture and language. With her permission, I’m posting this sample:
We Speak the White Man’s Language
except when dreaming, except when our fingers
braid hair, weave blankets, knot bait bags,
when we are praying in Indian. Work brings words
from the belly, the soles of the feet.
Words walk the woods where our relatives
burned the way forward from camp to camp,
trading stories with people along the way.
We speak in our own tongues, syllables full
of consonants, echoing from the back
of the throat to the nose, to the wind.
Our words are a clearing, a place for fire.
Where did the language go when the black robes
threw holy water on it? Did it disappear
when the switch was on our backs? Into the trees,
into the streams, into our wombs to wait.
I’d like to invite anyone who’s interested to join a discussion of Native Moons, Native Days in our Indigenous New England reading group on goodreads.com. We can start after the New Year, though the group’s discussion remains on goodreads for as long as people want to keep reading and posting. Carol herself has been known to show up there!
You can learn more about Carol on her own website. Happy holidays!