• The Blind Man’s Eyes

    in #80 Winter 2015/Excerpts/Poetry by

    The Blind Man's EyesWhen I Was Small

    When I was small
    I used to help my father
    Coming home from the wood with
    a bundle
    Of maskwi, snawey, aqmoq,
    My father would chip away,
    Carving with a crooked knife,
    Until a well-made handle appeared,
    Ready to be sandpapered
    By my brother.

    When it was finished
    We started another,
    Sometimes working through the night
    With me holding a lighted shaving
    To light their way
    When our kerosene lamp ran dry.

    Then in the morning
    My mother would be happy
    That there would be food today
    When my father sold our work.

    I Lost My Talk

    I lost my talk
    The talk you took away.
    When I was a little girl
    At Shubenacadie school.

    You snatched it away:
    I speak like you
    I think like you
    I create like you
    The scrambled ballad, about my word.

    Two ways I talk
    Both ways I say,
    Your way is more powerful.

    So gently I offer my hand and ask,
    Let me find my talk
    So I can teach you about me.

    Learning the Language

    Look at the busy rivers
    Where water runs over the pebbles
    As if to say, “Hello, how are you? I
    am gone.”
    Or a leaf on a maple tree
    “Touch me but don’t hurt.”
    You look but move on.
    Lay on the grass
    Mold your body to it, relaxing,
    The spiritual in effect
    And look at the sky,
    The lazy roll of a cloud passing by
    With pictures of dreams your
    mind wills
    The reward of nature,
    Gives you high high.


    A light from a kerosene lamp,
    The warmth from a wood stove
    Very much like shadows from
    my childhood
    The days long past.

    The Blind Man’s Eyes
    by Rita Joe
    $17.95, paperback, 140 pp.
    Breton Books, 2015

  • Born in poverty on a Cape Breton reserve, Rita Joe fought for family, justice, and her own independent voice. She faced intolerance, ignorance and abuse—searched her culture for strength—and wrote poems of clarity and encouragement that continue to inspire. A winner of the Order of Canada, Rita Joe writes about her life’s journey, and the promise of hope and healing.

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