October in the Soo

Shelly (Tal) Bressette portrait

October in the Soo      
Poetry and photography by Shelly (Tal) Bressette

Staring out the hotel window at choppy river water rippling fast below, cold as Algoma Steel.
Tom Thomson shades of muted rust and gold rim distant shorelines and unseen winds billow
beneath playful gulls’ wings. Stacks of spongy clouds climb above two bridges stretched like
cat’s cradles yawning lazily across the St. Marys River.

Photo by Shelly (Tal) Bressette

Where am I?
I am somewhere
between the blues and greys;
between earth and sky.
Captured by invisible winds tugging at my wings.

I have secrets I must guard at all times. I can’t give them away, they don’t belong to me. I keep
them hidden even from myself. These are not the kind of secrets you treasure. These are the
kinds you bury, protect, defend. Sometimes I want to walk away from them, forget about them,
abandon them, and live a life free of their burden, their weight.
I could feel lighter
I could rise up
past those clouds
into that blue sky
and warm sunshine.
But instead
I stay here
standing guard
over this 
cold grave
of secrets
making sure
no one 
discovers them.

I just want you to be happy, I say to you. But I hear the lie in my voice over the phone. You hear
it too, but we both pretend that it’s true because that is what we do. That is the secret of me and
you. One plus one does not equal two. In our equation: one plus one equals the unknown.

You are you
I am me
and there is no us
most of the time.

I just want him to be happy, I say. But what I really mean is: I just want me to be happy without
him and to know that when he leaves, I will not break into so many pieces that I forget how to
put the jigsaw puzzle of my life back together again.

Photo by Shelly (Tal) Bressette

Facebook makes me paranoid. Who is really reading this shit? Which algorithm am I part of and
for whom? I scroll down: press some likes, loves, wows… Sad face.
I see so much it hurts my brain and my fingers cramp and my coffee gets cold
But I can’t stop scrolling and liking and loving
And I get sucked into the Black Hole of Facebook  
And minutes and hours and lifetimes are ticking away
And I think:
“This has got to stop!” I’m shutting down my Facebook! But I never do because it will always be
there, hanging around in some Virtual Facebook Graveyard with my name on its tombstone
And all the things I liked and loved
and laughed at in My Facebook Life.
And my Epitaph will read: 
“She Did Not Share Enough.”

Photo by Shelly (Tal) Bressette

In my dream world I am Narrator, I am Author, I am Omnipresent. I watch me tell My Story to me 
and only me. I Conjure, I Manipulate, I Cast it with My Dream Medicine, Hands and Heart.
Too sacred 
to form
with words
only Dreams
can say.

The surprise of you,
the gentleness of your large hands,
the fearlessness of your heart,
the sadness in your eyes.
How perfectly loved you make me feel
whenever you wrap your arms around me
while I am standing at the sink doing dishes.
And you hold me until I relax and sink into you,
and then you hold me some more.
How much of me
have you absorbed?
How much of my pain and sorrow and anger
have you swallowed
into those broad shoulders
into that big heart,
into those sad eyes? 

Shelly (Tal) Bressette Boozhoo! I am Anishinaabekwe from Kettle & Stony Point First Nation and a mother and grandmother. I have written stories since I was a child; weaving what I know of myself and my world into the spaces somewhere between the lines. As I grow older and find myself living alone in my home community, I feel I am reclaiming my sense of self. Not necessarily who I was, but rather, who I want to become. I write what is in my heart, which is not always a comfortable place to dwell. 

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