6 X 9 inches, 128 pages
The Minor Odyssey of Lollie "Heronfeathers" Singer
Penumbra Press Poetry Series, No. 48
THIS BOOK IS ENTERTAINMENT. Nothing more. It does not claim to be history, ethnology, or anything else. Any connection to real life is coincidental at best and sheer accident at worst. Lollie and all the other people you'll meet in this book are products of the imaginationthat of a white, middle-aged, male poet from south-western Ontario.
Lollie Heronfeathers Singer was born south of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, but was raised in Sudbury and Toronto. Her "Indian" middle name was acquired when she was four. At a river north of Sudbury her father had gone fishing. She wandered away, and was found sitting by the water, where a heron was allowing her to pet it (unheard-of-behaviour for these birds). The bird flew away when Lollie's parents came, but she saved three feathers, and for years steadfastly refused to give them up. Her parents called her "feathers" while she was a child, as a family joke. It was when she turned forty-five and became a divorced casualty of the modern age that she started to look into her ancestry. Her mother (who died when Lollie was young) had told her that she was of Metís background, from the Red River area of Manitoba. She had both French-Canadian and Cree ancestors. (Her father told her the Singer family had started in Poland, and had come to Canada before the turn of the last century.)
"I would appreciate,"
Said the Jesuit
"If you would not cross yourself
When talking of the Wind Spirit
As if you believed. You cannot
Have God and this pagan spirit
Both in your mind."
"I would appreciate,"
Said my husband, watching the wall,
"That those castrés in Montreal
Spend a few days on the grasslands
Hunting buffalo. Or maybe
A very big hour in a very small caone
On the Big Sea Water."
He puffed at his pipe. The wind
Blew smoke down the chimney
Tapped on the one glass pane
Jean had spent his best on.
"I think God knows the Wind Spirit
A lot better than you, my friend."
Dark Clothes began again, but
The wind snatched the door open,
Took the hat off the young priest
and slammed the door again.
Outside, thunderclouds ranted.
Inside, Jean poured wine
For both of them.
"I think," said the man in black afterwards,
"That I'll check The Book again.
I probably missed a passage somewhere."
(Conflict of beliefs in Métis country)
Lenny Everson was born in Belleville and raised in Glen Miller, Ontario. A technical writer, he holds a degree in English from Trent University and a certificate in Electronics from Loyalist College. Although this is his first book, several of his poemschiefly canoeing poemswere previously published in small, literary magazines. He has also written short stories on the theme of canoeing murder mysteries.