Recently, our Board Member Rubin Friedman participated in the 7th Annual Reconciliation Day in Ottawa. He read the following poem he wrote after hearing a presentation by Katherena Vermette on missing and murdered in Winnipeg at the New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Art. Rubin is also a participant in our eRace series.
I have dragged the Red River of memory for missing and murdered.
The rapid waters of the past carry bones and bodies away unburied
To be smashed and crushed by rolling current on large boulders.
Downstream, we are panning for gold and silver... teeth
And the fine white specks with unmarrowed centres,
The remains of small fingers and slender hands.
In a quiet pool, the bubbling liquid pops out a corpse
Or a head, flayed to a bleached skull with empty sockets.
The dead reappear with rotted flesh. Sometimes they have ID.
We pull them from the lapping waves or off the sandy shores,
And give them to the grieving for a waiting earthy grave,
A tombstone marker and a sad and aching awareness
Of a hole that’s opened up inside ourselves. It holds
The memory of the smell of hair, the expression of a smile
A father/brother/son; a mother/daughter/sister gone.
They will not return except in dreams and in a trembling trace
Of their spirit, their strong embrace, their tender touch upon our face.
We hold fast to what’s in our heart and now anchored to this place.
And what of those, no token of whom is found?
What strange hope and fear goes on and on
A precarious perch that can tip at any time, but never does?
How close the rift that’s opened at our feet?
But fill it with the River of what we remember
Sit with others by its shores hands clasped,
Reach across and through this liquid chasm
To form a fine and interwoven human net.
No further victim will slip through into the wet.