Naming Poem

Aaron Burden, Unsplash

In the preface of the book I am reading, Quiet Until the Thaw, is this poem. It is a Cree narrative naming poem. There are several such poems, this is just one. I am going to look for the others. For me, the simplicity and message make this poem almost immediately unforgettable. That’s rare so I had to share.

Her name tells of how
it was with her.

The truth is, she did not speak
in winter.
Everybody learned not to
ask her questions in winter,
once this was known about her.

The first winter this happened
we looked in her mouth to see
if something was frozen. Her tongue
maybe, or something else in there.

But after the that she spoke again
and told us it was fine for her that way

So each spring we
looked forward to that.


Translation from the Wishing Bone Cycle, by Howard A. Norman

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