Zaagigan

Beyond the treetops of leaves so green
Below the turquoise expanse of clear sky
Before the misty, rolling shoreline of a far away bay
Lies the Lake, Zaagigan.

Her waters so blue, so dark
A foreboding expanse from east to west
In constant motion
Her movement is a fluid dance.

She’s called Zaagigan for a reason
Her story is a subtle thought, almost lost in time

Nini, the Anishinaabe hunter’s quest
not for greatness or sport, but for Love
To feed his young family, their seed
and a Love so cherished that it’s still felt today.

Kwe – so fair, yet so dark, with unending braids of strength
Her slender figure embraces a deerskin dress
She sees her lover off from the sandy shore
The water: sacred, reflective, respected and wise.

Nini – his heart, true with respect
Offers tobacco for what he has taken
He embarks home with his burden of game
pulling down on the birch bark canoe
with every weary stroke of his paddle.

She sees him, he is so close
So close to the shore, his lover awaits
As thunderbirds glide in from the west
well above the darkness seen from down below

She sees him, he is so close
But the storm churns up the Spirit underneath
It forms an apparition of a deadly Serpent
Spewing and spraying the helpless man
As he fights the weight of his game
and the power of these spiritual forces 

But it is not meant to be
Nini, canoe, game and all
Swallowed whole in the savage undercurrent
The Serpent bears its head no more 

Panicked, shock-stricken, sobbing, wailing
Teeth-clenched in a fitful rage
Her shock turns to despair –
Her despair turns to Love

Kwe, steps off the sandy shore
Hikes up her rain-soiled deerskin dress
Wades in, with cries of pain and sorrow. 

Step by step, she cannot be called back
Her family, aunties and uncles beg her to return
She wades into the depths of the Lake
With haunting cries of Love 

“Zaagaa’in, Zaagaa’in.”
“I Love You.  I Love You.”
Kwe cries to her Nini. 

“Zaagaa’in, Zaagaa’in”
“I Love You.  I Love You.”
She cries to Creation in mournful song.

 Of one so fair, and a Love so fair.
Finally, Kwe herself, is taken by the Serpent
Below the depths of anguish
Where she may feel no more
Spirits taken to where they are joined forever

Zaagaa’in – our word for Love
Zaagigan – our word for Lake
In memory, not of a Love no more
But of a Love so cherished
that it’s still felt today.
Of one so fair, and a Love so fair.

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