Medicine Speaker

  • Sharon’s poem.  Sharon Pasula

I submitted two poems to Word On the Street. The first one was not rejected but came back with a comment: “In most cases, community juries have stayed away from references to specific religions.”

Here is my original submission:

Words are medicine,
that’s what the old ones say.
That’s what the Bible says too.
But the deal is it’s up to you,
will your medicine give life or take it away?

Initially, I wanted to either leave it and risk the censure or withdraw it completely. But I pondered it prayerfully. Also, I really did want to see something literally “engraved in stone’”(concrete in this context). So, I did a small change and submitted this:

Words are medicine,
that’s what the old ones say.
That’s what ancient words say too.
But the deal is it’s up to you,
will your medicine give life or take it away?

This poem was accepted and sandblasted on the street adjacent to the former McCauley School (now the Edmonton Intercultural Centre), one of three locations for the poems. I was thrilled, of course. I actually prefer the revision.

As I took a few photos I recalled that I once attended McCauley School in grades one and two. Now, here were engraved words that represent two aspects of my being. Indigenous Elders have always encouraged us to speak good because there is power in words (the old ones). My faith as a follower of the Jesus Way says the same thing (medicine). Creator has a way of bringing us back to our roots, a full circle. Thank you Creator for bringing me back full circle and help me to be a medicine-speaker.

Sharon Pasula is an Indigenous spiritual and cultural resource person who lives in Boyle Street.

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