Translation/ Misreading in nehi katawasisiw’s poem sâkihitowin maskihkiy

I am fascinated by nehi katawasisiw’s poem sâkihitowin maskihkiy, which translates to something like “Love Medicine.” I have included my annotations of the poem which reveal my thought process while reading. I also want to discuss how my understanding of the poem shifted after I looked up the phrases in Eastern Cree that I did not understand.

In my first reading of the poem, I did not know the translation of the title, but got the sense of the speaker’s desire to give protect and give something to a lover. Learning the meaning of the title made me consider whether the speaker’s actions are medicine either for her or for her lover. So too, looking up the term “kawenniiostha” changed my understanding of the poem. This word the opening line of the poem that repeats about one third of the way through. I read this first to be a description of nature, as it was introduced with a series of images of nature. When I looked it up, however, I found that this term is actually a name. This translation sparked a reading that the poem is a direct address to the speaker’s lover. Moveover, the reevaluation of my own reading reminded me of the space between my understanding of this poem and the reader and writer’s understanding; this created a sense of intimacy between the lovers that I did not have access to. 

The last term in Eastern Cree katawasisiw uses is “Tahkine” After learning kawenniiostha is a name, I presumed that tahkine was also a name as it is the last line of the poem and the line before this phrase is “yours.”   I originally read “tahkine” as a signature to the poem. My research revealed that Tahkine actually means “forever and ever” or “always.” Though I read this term incorrectly, I really enjoyed the meaning created in my misreading of this line. My confusion created the sense that the speaker of the poem and the concept “forever” are linked.


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One Response to Translation/ Misreading in nehi katawasisiw’s poem sâkihitowin maskihkiy

  1. Erica Mena says:

    Great generative misreadings! I’m glad you engaged with the languages of the poem in the way you did, accepting your exclusion from the space created both by the language and by the poem, while still finding resonance within.


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