You let me comb your hair for you. As I ran my fingers through each strand it writhed and snapped, twisted and bit until my fingers were flush with blood. When I finished, a coiled mess of snakes lay at my feet, my hands were stained with crimson, but you were well again.Read Alyssa Megan General's Enkonte’nikonhrakwaríhsya’te
Six Nations of the Grand River Territory
Wa’tkwanonhwerá:ton, Megan General niwakhsennò:ten. Ohswé:ken nitewaké:non táhnon Kanyen’kehá:ka niwakonhwentsyò:ten. Hello, my name is Megan General. I am a Mohawk Turtle from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.
The piece I have chosen is a mix of both historical events and legend. I have written my poem from the perspectives of the three man characters, Ayenwahtha, Tekanawita, and Thatotarho. The Kayanere’kó:wa (the Great Law) tells the story of the Peacemaker, Tekanawita, on his journey to unite warring nations with the concepts of peace, power and a good mind. In his travels he crosses the path of Ayenwahtha, (Hiawatha) who is distraught by the loss of his seven daughters and has become a cannibal. Tekanawita helps Ayenwahtha regain his mind and the two continue on to enlighten others throughout their journey. When they gain the alliance of the five nations, forming the Haudenosaunee Confederacy; the Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Oneida, their united effort allows them to straighten out the mind of Thatotarho, a corrupted, powerful man.
My mother told me that when she was pregnant with each of her children, she prayed that we would have empathy. I have recently become a mother of a beautiful baby girl. Since my daughter’s birth I have often thought of the lessons I would like to impart to her. I looked at this story, and dwelled of what would be considered modern notions of the conditions which Thatotarho and Ayenwahtha possessed; addiction, abuse, neglect, selfishness. Many of which are symptoms passed on through generations as evidence of historical trauma. If I were to pass on anything to my daughter, it would be those concepts of peace, power, a good mind, as well as empathy. When I say this I mean that she may think her decisions through with thought for others and always with good thoughts.
If we can teach our own children to use a good mind in how we respect ourselves, each-other, our children, our culture and the world around us. Then we provide them with the tools to work together in unity to ensure the ways in which we govern all of those aspects are with the best thought for the future.
I awoke from my sleep, and all the warmth that made my house a home had up and gone in the night. The living frame which inhaled and exhaled with the lives of seven others ran cold. Death’s acquaintance filled itself with my vacant rooms, and replaced the flux and rhythm of my daily life with stagnant air too acrid to breath. But still no one came to fill the space, to pardon Death’s lengthy visit. So I abandoned my home just as others had abandoned me, and no longer did I live with my grief but I became it. If I were to see someone in my state, I should go to him and take down his sorrows.
Royewatha (He is still Awake)
I’ve sequestered myself from these unpalatable truths of man
And in doing so turned myself inwards
Into a monster,
For their words are as yielding as their flesh
And so easily their virtues tear when tooth and nail do crave a moral feast.
I do not cater to the way they hunger,
But how I wish I could teeth to tongue
Twist the apathy from their pallets.
With such an appetite as this,
I should be satisfied.
But the bodies I’ve buried are all my own;
My heart, my soul, my blood, my bone.
In seven pieces I have been wretched apart
With nothing to sift my losses through,
Discard me like a hollow thing
Or lift my grief from me,
And make me new.
I have come this far.
I have traversed the path of death
And listened as the thicket scuttled with the sounds of old and restless things,
I have followed your road,
Crooked and snaked,
And watched others seduce and dishevel you through these altered states.
But I will make you new again.
I will take your sorrows down,
And recite them as you have to me
Come with me brother,
And I will sing you back into the world again and out of your dark season.
Thatotarho (He is bent)
A sunken hollow gapes where the soul should remain eternal.
Purged of any empathy that would shape this monster into a man
But I have long since discarded those qualities
And traded my flesh for the cold comfort of ice
And exchanged those meals that would sustain me
For those that would give me power.
For if man’s body is a temple,
Than I am the disease that seeks to obscure and devour its strength.
There is no high holy heart that could lever this anchor from my own
For without blinking an eye
I will cut yours from you
And dress it to feast upon if it so suits my mood.
We are selfish.
We are so careful to watch our own skin
Than to show any discernable compassion for others.
I am the monster,
But perhaps it is you who has made me so.
Breathe on a Flame
Come with me brother,
Let me sing you back into the world again and out of your dark season.
I will not refrain,
Nor shall that fire in me falter for it has been born in others.
I will sing for you,
And if your cold heart should reduce my tinder to ash,
Another’s voice rise where the embers I sparked have fallen.
We each will breathe life into you again.
(I will straighten out your mind)
You let me comb your hair for you.
As I ran my fingers through each strand it writhed and snapped, twisted and bit until my fingers were flush with blood. When I finished, a coiled mess of snakes lay at my feet, my hands were stained with crimson, but you were well again.
Crooks in a Spine
I laid my hands upon your back
I rebuilt the shambles of your bent and broken form, and breathed life back into you again. You are man once more.
I have sung you back into the world again, and out of your dark season.
(I have straightened out your mind)