Denise Lajimodiere (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) is approaching her fifth decade in education as an elementary school teacher, principal, and college professor. She is among the founders of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. A vote by North Dakota’s legislature has just named Lajimodiere the state’s first Native American poet laureate.
Break 1 music: Track 08 (song) Red Lake Singers (artist) Old Times (album)
Break 2 music: Buffalo (song) Algin Scabby Robe (artist) Along The Way: Round Dance Songs (album)
Spring Comes Slow to North Country
by Denise Lajimodiere
The prairie chicken dances
the sun toward
its northernmost summer home,
a slow dance,
pale April light filtered
through bare birch limbs
offers little heat,
the bleak wind brittle as mica.
The ice locked lake begins to moan
a low rumbling, the sound
of thunder coming,
ice vibrates like a drum head,
sings so loud it wakes me up.
Spring comes slow
to north country. Ice rain stings
our faces, winter weary bodies crave
sun’s warmth. First thunder wakes
the sleeping earth, sap begins to flow,
calls the snakes, loons wail,
geese return, how I mourned
their leaving seven months ago.