Samantha Martin-Bird | MISHIPESHU

the summer I spent on the lake
I dropped some semaa as we jumped in the canoe

kwe told me stories of mishipeshu
of violence and death and vengeance

the wind picked up and blew against us
the entire way back

I shouldn’t have talked about him on the lake
she said
he doesn’t like it
she told me

you can cut off his tail
but he’ll rear his ugly head again
you can throw a spear through his heart
but he’ll make a mockery of the grave

you can mute him
block him
delete him

you can tell yourself you’ll never speak to him again
that he’s evil and awful and

but he’ll come back

his stomach is bottomless and
he’ll eat you alive
he’ll devour you whole

he’ll steal all your futures
strike your baby dead in the head
with his tail

photo by Sarah McPherson

Samantha Martin-Bird is a citizen of Peguis First Nation and writes poetry from the north shore of Lake Superior. She was a 2022 winner of the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW) Poetry Contest, a 2021 winner of the Indigenous Voices Awards and was shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Open Season award in 2022. Her work has appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, Room, The Puritan, Canthius, The Hopper, filling Station, and The Temz Review.