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May we suggest

Features / December 3, 2020

Body: An Acknowledgement

"You take me beyond flesh and show me what I really am. This is what has always sustained us"
Quill Christie-Peters, <em>Desire spilling over body and time</em>, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 61 x 91.4 cm. Courtesy the artist. Quill Christie-Peters, Desire spilling over body and time, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 61 x 91.4 cm. Courtesy the artist.

The lake is still and surrounded by a dense forest. The bears are old and cunning. I lose my body for a moment and become just like smoke. When I return to myself, you take me into the sky, deep into the stars. We hold on to each other within the galaxies, floating high above the earth and howling in laughter. When I wake up, I know you have found me. I know it is time for my body to bring yours down to this earth.

Body, you are both the keeper of linear time and physical space, and the technology from which I exit these confines, flickering between many states.

Body, you are the simultaneous, that which cannot be contained. Existing in complex multitudes, you are everything they can never take from us, everything they can never comprehend.

Body, you are our greatest resistance, the act of spilling over all of the rigidity that has been built around us. You are like rivers, flowing softly on earth, gently gathering against shore, forever in a complicated motion that they can never grasp.

The ripple of a lake exists in my body, travelling up from my spine and reaching my heart. When I sit in stillness, I can see an ancient sturgeon hovering in the dark depths. I can hear the voices of my ancestors who travelled this lake, and the sema they offered caresses the palms of my hands as if it were still floating in that beautiful water. When I wake up, I know that I have everything I need within myself.

Body, you are everything that holds me, the black treeline of spruce against a pink sky, the muskrat looking for a place to build its home, the prayers of thousands of ancestors. You take me beyond flesh and show me what I really am. This is what has always sustained us.

Body, you are my parents, my grandparents, my beautiful ancestors. When I give you pleasure, they all sigh in great relief, and my wholeness wraps the brokenness of their bodies in warmth. You show me moments of fullness so that I may understand what they attempt to take from us.

Body, you are the conduit of creation. Through hands we mark our worlds, through tongue we speak and sing. We can reach into the stars and birth worlds here on earth. To be Anishinaabeg is to exist within a continuum of creation, each world creating a web that holds us all, each world just as important as the next. To be Anishinaabeg is to reject hierarchy in all its forms, to exist in multiplicities that cannot be named.

Waves of water and blood crash down my legs. The rhythm of you descending within me sends me up into the sky again. We are once again laughing and traversing galaxies, but now I am beckoning you to come with me, telling you I am ready. And so my body ruptures, and a new world begins. This rupture is so sweet it makes me grieve my own impermanence and the cruelty of time that will not let us be here together forever. My giizik, a clear sky that we will always exist within together. When I wake up, my wildest dreams have come true.

Body, you connect us to the great beyond. You make me weep in reverence of who we are and where we come from. You take me to dance with the universe, and each time I return, I sweetly hold all that I have on this earth in gratitude, all that I am, all that we are, all that they can never touch, all that will forever remain.

Body, the whispers of ancestors tending to a lodge, the smell of rain on the mossy bog, the ability to feel loved and held, the smile of my grandmother as she holds my child, the chuckle of my father as he paints futures with me, all that we are, all that we will be—forever flickering.

Sovereign in our complexity, we are everything they can never reach.



This is an article from our special all-Indigenous digital issue, “Sovereignty.”

Quill Christie-Peters

Quill Christie-Peters is an Anishinaabe arts programmer and self-taught visual artist currently residing in Northwestern Ontario. She works as the director of education for the Indigenous Curatorial Collective. She is the creator of the Indigenous Youth Residency Program, an artist residency for Indigenous youth that engages land-based creative practices through Anishinaabe artistic methodologies. She holds a master’s degree in Indigenous governance on Anishinaabe art-making as a process of falling in love, and sits on the board of directors for Native Women in the Arts. She has spoken about her work at Stanford University, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. Her written work can be found in GUTS Magazine and at tea&bannock blog and her visual work can be found at @raunchykwe.