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on looking

to write

an ndn

Kai Minosh Pyle

against the thicketed forest of nature poems i write an ndn. i write that ndn so hard that s/he breaks through the ground, sinks roots like the claws of aching drills mining my autochthonous dreams from the soil. i write that ndn like a horse. i ride that ndn like a cowboi in leather chaps. dig my heels into the soft skin along that ndn’s belly til it rips and drips oily blood down my calves. 


i am looking for a way to write an ndn who doesn’t exist in the imagination of tall grass prairies. i tape signs up on the lampposts in the suburban neighborhood sugar bush i can’t afford to live in. the ndn i am looking for wouldn’t be allowed to sign a lease there anyway. this ndn i’m looking for is probably made of lake encased in inky black garbage bags. this ndn is tens of thousands of years old before the pipeline is fed through a tube down h/ throat. s/he knows the heartbreak in rust and in used condoms lining the street named after h/ ancestral people. 


the story that this ndn finds h/self in is not a tragedy. is not is not is not a tragedy. still, there is love and betrayal and yes, a death at the end. i want to write this ndn into sovereignty, into clean river water, into my arms again. i write this ndn every day start to finish and every day s/he comes out the same. i am looking to write this ndn in a way that let’s h/ be a place in a world of places, not a body in a writhing mass of bodies. this ndn deserves better than me but i am the one s/he chose to wait at the finish line for h/. 


as i write this ndn, observe your reactions to h/ existence. monitor the rise and fall of your breaths, foggy against the window. does your pulse quicken when i tell you how my love shattered h/? do you have to reign in your desire to see the intimacy of h/ flesh becoming fertilizer, h/ bones like so many ancient garden hoes? 

s/he is watching you too, that ndn. s/he is waiting for you to slip up. i am writing that ndn like a horse’s ear twitch. riding h/ hard. i am still looking for an ndn to write this way. i put up birchbark signs stapled to trees like a salt in a wound. if found, please, please come back to me.

Kai Minosh Pyle is a Two-Spirit Métis and Sault Ste. Marie Nishnaabe writer currently living on the Dakota homelands of Bde Ota Othunwe (Minneapolis, MN). They have been published as a writer of poetry, creative nonfiction, academic work, and soon, fiction. You can find their work on their website,, or follow them on twitter as @mekadebinesikwe. When not writing you can find them at one of the multiple Ojibwe language tables in Minneapolis that nourishes their spirit weekly. 

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