Lee Maracle: A Commissioned Poem for #HousingCentral

Stó:lō author Lee Maracle passed away on Nov. 11, 2021. We were fortunate to experience this powerful voice in Indigenous literature at the 2020 Housing Central Conference, for which we commissione
d this original poem by Maracle.

A sweeping narrative and scathing indictment of the lasting effects of colonialism, and the havoc it continues to wreak on Indigenous Peoples and communities, Lee Maracle’s poem touches on housing, homelessness, resource extraction and the complicated history underlying efforts at reconciliation.

I’m going home
To Paddle down the rivers of my mountains
And ply the deepest sound in the world
Watching out for orcas, whales and ouske

I’m going home
The language rolls inside my watery mouth before it leaves
To blow through cedar trees and patter across river stones
Snewksqs wayel 

I sing I am going home
To the base tones of Sto: lo music
My voice echoes the sea’s rolling swells
Home to where everyone holds you up

I am homeless in Tkaranto
No ancestors greet my prayers
No cedar assuages my spirit
no orcas echo my song

I do not belong here
Not even the water recognizes me
The air smells wrong: no kelp, no salt,
Seaweed or deep-sea fish

I am going home
Not sure I will find a place near pigeon square
May not be any SRO’s to take me in, I am old
Most of my relations have passed

Ok, still going home
Like Ta’ah I will retreat to the mountains
take my last walk among the dead
I will be home, blessed
Blessed, blessed…