Skin Like Mine
In Skin Like Mine Garry Gottfriedson offers a suite of poems that peel away the skin of contemporary first nations society to reveal an inside view of individual experience. Gottfriedson speaks of “minds full of anticipation” yet with “tongues pointing arrowheads. ” Today’s youth, he says, are “afraid of themselves. ” He finds that both individuals and bands end in “tangles,” that they write “nonsense words in the sand” or exploit images painted on rocks, those “the postmodern Indian calls / visual poetic expression. ” As the collection continues, however, Gottfriedson’s love for the land emerges. He draws attention to the rape of the natural environment, the skin of Mother Earth, through clear-cut logging. He speaks of the damage caused by the pine beetle, of “forests being / eaten from the inside out. ” And here it is that Gottfriedson introduces the mysterious Horsechild, who is to prepare the drying racks for the returning salmon “so that beneath your skin / the mountains will be forever abundant”: a prayer for us to protect the migrating salmon on their multi-year cycles, to protect the bears and eagles that feast upon them, so as to assure that the transformations will continue, that there will be abundance for both humans and the earth itself.