Salmon fillets on the table. The sun’s orange grove. Hard wood.
Fish looks beautiful. They say. Moths have dreams too.
I lived here once. For the song. My son was 6 months
old when I moved. He is with me today. Scraping salmon skins.
With an ulu. He is 12 now. Emily says. Sometimes the fish comes
from what my family catches. The floor creaks. We all come back.
So do the Salmon. People want to connect. They are happy
telling stories. All the rivers run together. Her grandmother gave her a gift.
She is the first dancer to tell stories with her mouth. Beside a baby pool.
Leaves blowing. At a feast. With spirals. The work people do with their hands
influences what they talk about. What they touch with their hands influences
what they hear. How they listen. Four women drove down from Thunder bay.
In a Chevy 4 wheel drive extended cab pick-up. I am from Alaska Emily says.
Fish come up a lot. This drafty old church. Once a house of god. Now
a house of art. Frosted moons in the window bottoms. There are threads
between the flesh and skin that must be scraped off. They bind the two together.
Orion. Pined above the dark ice-clinking lake. Uses the window. Never the door.
Fleshing knives. Salmon skins are sewn together with the whip stitch.
Pine cone marks. Cylinders. Light comes and goes from the world.
You could weave your hair between the stitches. You can tell stories while working.
For good luck. There are little rooms where the light is protected.
Kept. Sacred. Our conversation lulls with the landscape of the work.
Women are gentle. I feel safe among them. Deliberate. Little kettles
in the rock. Wells. Where fur and seeds collect.
James is pushing a grill up and down the block. We marinate the salmon.
This is a collective feast. A women brings me a 30 year old sour dough
starter from Grand Portage. These lanterns are deliberate. The food
people share at the potluck is deliberate. Part of them. The stories we
offer. With Food. Work. Our voices. Provide a sense of place together. Despite
we all came from somewhere else. To be here. There is a space between
where we are. And how far we can go. What happens in that space can be called
art. Craft. Life. Story. There is no difference. Emily mimics the relationships
and patterns she sees in nature. With bodies. A circle. Moving plants
around the house. Helping them find the sun. Members from the community bring
food to share. Our needles and sinew are tools for archiving. Salmon
into sources of light. I blame the institution for sabotaging the
systems by which we establish and measure value. On heart. Spirit.
Replacing spider webs and untracked snow. With Decimal.
Across the river. On this side of the river. For ravens. What we are doing
up in this little church is not for sale. Our living is the archive. Passed Down.
If we allow ourselves to be animals. The wind only knows one kind of pine.
All Rendered Truth. Lonnie Holley sings. In the Background. How do we want
to remember these stories. How do we want to continue letting them live.
Rove shale. Norwesters. Basalt. The other name. Questas.
Chel told me her favorite flower. No one knows about is the Warted Fruity Ferry Bell.
There are no pictures of it on google. She said having seen Emily dance
informed the making of this lantern. Sewing this lantern informed
her memory of Emily Dancing. The important stories are the ones told
while using our hands. The Salmon already know this. Out waiting with the stars.
By Ben Weaver