What Do You Believe In?

Do you believe in the ghosts of aunties and uncles that drive old sin-

gle-bench pickup trucks spotted with bullet-hole rust, sweetgrass and

beaded necklaces dangling from the rear-view mirror? Those who

dream forever of empty stretches of prairie trail turned concrete road

passed over by generations of everyone who held the memory of you

close. Those who believed in you even when you didn’t believe that the

future could be infinite for all of us who live under and within endless

sky, endless prairie wool, endless bison and endless coveys of sharptail



Do you believe in sitting on the shores of the Saskatchewan River next

to nehiyawak cousins ​​planning out the moose hunts that will keep meat

flowing back into amiskwaciy-waskahikan for another winter so that all

of our relations can taste the blood and body of a true Eucharist, the

Earth made whole through the eyes of a two-year-old bull moose? His

flesh sustaining and forever nurturing our kinship spirits that only move

us further toward understanding who we were always meant to be.


Do you believe in the beauty of the wrinkles around an old lady’s eyes

while she sits wrapped up in a homemade quilt, sipping muskeg tea

next to the wood-burning stove? Each line a thousand laughs, a thou-

sand tears, a thousand stories spilled out so that we can move forward

in a good way, holding truth next to our hearts, sustained through the

crackle of birch burning dark into the night, forever holding onto our

place next to the grandmothers who defined what it means to be family.


Do you believe in singing loud into the night? Barn dances replaced

by pubs and karaoke machines. Potato champagne by cheap bottles

of Pilsner. Oh no, not I, I will survive, oh as long as I know how to love I

know I’ll stay alive rippling through the air to the backdrop of fading

fiddles, spoons, and the tapping of beer bottles on hard top tables, cards

swooshing as they’re dealt high into the air. Bet on us, because we're

not going anywhere. Never were, never will. Gloria Gaynor had it right

all along.


Do you believe in those who aren’t born yet? Those who will come after

us. Those who will take back the land from the idea of ​​Canada and give

it away to the grasses. Eradicate the machinery, tear it down, build it up.

Believe in the words and the way that pride is written all over the faces

of those who learn what it means to own ourselves. To never bow under

hell on earth. To never step back but always move forward knowing

that within this landscape we are reborn, awoken, brought back by the

artists and the writers, the poets and the dancers, the musicians and the

lovers, the beaders and the hunters.


Because I do.


I believe in everything.


Bibliographical info

Conor Kerr's "What do you believe in?" Copyright © 2023 by Conor Kerr. Source “What do you believe in?” from Old Gods. (Nightwood Editions, 2023). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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