[Untitled] by Carol Dana

Pensive in her rocking chair
stiff and straight faced.
The hard line of her mouth
I would wait to see crack
To know what was inside.
Sometimes I felt I should hide
from her sternness and harsh ways,
Although there were many days
she would talk and smile with her friends,
passing the while
speaking in Passamaquoddy,
their eyes smiling with fun
when directed at me.
I wondered, now what have I done
to amuse them so?
I would be perturbed to no end
for some understanding.
Little did I know the ladies joked
about having fun, teasing, and sex.
They talked about human qualities,
What the neighbors said or done.
We were the age-old stream
of lndian people
Yet I couldn’t participate
because of my lack of native language.

Born and raised on Indian Island, Carol Dana has six children and nine grandchildren. In 2008 she earned her MAin education at the University of Maine. She has devoted years to Penobscot language revitalization, working with linguist Frank Siebert on the Penobscot dictionary project during the 1980s and teaching Penobscot at the Indian Island School during the 1990s. At present she is the cultural historical preservation officer for the Penobscot Nation, where she has helped to produce several workbooks, videos, and other cultural materials. The following poems first appeared in her chapbook When No One Is Looking.

from Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England (2014)

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About Carol Rose

Carol Rose Little graduated from McGill University in the Joint Honours Programme in Linguistics and Russian Studies in 2012. She began studying Mi'gmaq in the fall of 2011 for a field methods class. Her interests include Algonquian morphosyntax and evidentiality. So far she has spent summers 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 on Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nations Reserve studying Mi'gmaq and doing linguistic fieldwork.

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