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Connie Fife (Cree Canadian / Mohawk, 1961-2017)

Dian Million

I looked for Connie on Facebook, when Mujer Palabra published my translation into Spanish of her poem "Dear Webster". I couldn't find her, but I found other American Indian writers (2014) - all published here - who were happy to hear I was spreading the word about their existence as writers on the Net, and in Spain. Connie Fife was a poet and editor. I'm saying "was" in a state of shock. You see, today (Feb 2018) Emma Gunst and I talked about audiorecording the English and Spanish versions, and as I prepared it all, and waited for Emma's recording of the translation, I found out Connie died last year. So now I can't tell her and ask if it's OK. I hope her words reach you all, for they are powerful and loving!

"Dear Webster" is a poem that was included in "Reinventing the Enemy's Language. Contemporary Native Women's Writings of North America" external link, edited by Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird external link.

Connie Fife at Strong Nations external link
Another poem by Connie Fife, "Resistence" external link
Photos and a bit more external link


Dear Webster
Listen! Listen external link to this poem! - Go to the Spanish translation & the audio by Emma Gunst external link Poem in English & Spanish at Emma's blog external link

Printer-friendly version of the poem word (1 page)


savage (sav’ij) adj. without civilization; primitive;barbarous (a savage tribe) n. a member of a preliterate society having a primitive way of life; a fierce, brutal person.

i am the one who talks with the mountains
when i am not sliding down the stream of its face/
i am the one who walks the streets late at night despite the danger
believing this land is mine to roam freely/
i am the one who carved a mask from a thick tree
then wore it/
i am the one who raises her arms to the sun
then takes flight on winds from the east/
i am the one who says “No more”
then leaves the man whose fists have reconstructed my bones/
i am the one who defies the narrow definition of love
and loves another woman
and heals a nation in doing so/
i am the one who meeting after meeting turns away when men misconstrue my words
and goes on/
i am the one whose stories take our collective pasts into the future
and guarantees that not one day is left behind/
i am the one sleeping on the sidewalks
who speaks to all my elations as the masses hear only their own silence/
i am the one who cradles close to her breasts small children
and women who were old before they were young/
I am the one who shoots fire into the veins of those
who cannot re-ignite their own sparks
then gives them the responsibility of stocking the wood/
i am the one who talks to herself and hears others answer
then writes it down so that the words remain in my throat/
i am the one who demonstrates against forced relocation
and uses a shotgun to carry the message clean home/
i am the one who watched as my children’s hair was cut
and cried and wept then screamed “Return them”/
i am the one struggling to find her way back
i am the one who uses brushes to paint my resistance on a canvas
then hangs my tapestry across the horizon/
i am the one whose son died of AIDS while a piece
of myself died each day and couldn’t halt either
then buried my child/
i am the one who was raped by my father then my uncle
and spent years hiding then decided to change it all
and used all my rage to castrate my memory of them
and healed myself with love/
i am the one who late at night screams and howls
and hears voices answer/
i am the one whose death was intended
and didn’t die