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Dreams of Water Bodies / Nibii-wiiyawan Bawaadanan

This is our final post in our month-long series on the blog focusing on the theme of water. Our water series was designed to build upon the Spring 2016 issue of our member magazine, the Leopold Outlook, published on World Water Day and also focused on water. We were thrilled and honored to be able to include several picto-poems from Wisconsin poet laureate Kimberly Blaeser in that issue, but were disappointed to not have room to include the Anishinaabe translation of her poem “Dreams of Water Bodies” due to space constraints. We are pleased to share that with you now. You can preview the full issue of Outlook here to see more of Kimberly Blaeser’s beautiful poetry and images. You can also become a member of the Aldo Leopold Foundation to get your own copy! Look for the next issue of Outlook this fall, exploring the theme of building the next generation of conservation leadership. -Editor

#WorldWaterDay Aldo Leopold Foundation Dreams of Water Bodies

Dreams of Water Bodies / Nibii-wiiyawan Bawaadanan*

Wazhashk,
small whiskered swimmer,
you, a fluid arrow crossing waterways
with the simple determination
of one who has dived
purple deep into mythic quest.

Belittled or despised
as water rat on land;
hero of our Anishinaabeg people
in animal tales, creation stories
whose tellers open slowly,
magically like within a dream,
your tiny clenched fist
so all water tribes
might believe.

See the small grains of sand—
Ah, only those poor few—
but they become our turtle island
this good and well-dreamed land
where we stand in this moment
on the edge of so many bodies of water
and watch Wazhashk, our brother,
slip through pools and streams and lakes
this marshland earth hallowed by
the memory
the telling
the hope
the dive
of sleek-whiskered-swimmers

who mark a dark path.

And sometimes in our water dreams
we pitiful land-dwellers
in longing
recall, and singing
make spirits ready
to follow:
bakobii.*

*Go down into the water.

Wazhashk
agaashiinyi memiishanowe bagazod
biwak-dakamaadagaayin
mashkawndamyin
googiigwaashkwaniyamban
dimii-miinaandeg gagwedweyamban.

G’goopazomigoog
ninii-chiwaawaabiganoojinh akiing
ogichidaa Anishinaabe
awesiinaajimowinong, aadizookaang
dash dibaajimojig onisaakonanaanaawaa
nengatch enji-mamaanjiding
gdo’bikwaakoninjens
midash kina Nibiishinaabe
debwe’endamowaad.

Waabandanan negawan
aah sa ongow eta
maaaji-mishiikenh-minis
minwaabandaan aakiing maampii
niigaanigaabawiying
agamigong
Wazhashk waabamang, niikaanaanig
zhiibaasige zaaga’iganan gaye ziibiinsan

mashkiig zhawedaamin
mikwendamin
waawiindamin
ezhi-bagosenimowaad
ezhi-googiiwaad
agaashiinyag memiishanowewaad bagazojig
dibiki-miikanong.

Nangodinong enji-nibii-bawaajiganan
gidimagozijig aakiing endaaying
bakadenodamin
dash nagamoying
jiibenaakeying
noosone’igeying
bakobiiying.

*Translation by Margaret Noodin