your vision framed by planks salvaged from a ransacked village wrinkles in your brain wagon wheel tracks across the plains your home warmed by the flames of broken treaties the tump-tump in your chest bullets entering temples your veins rivers of colonizer blood
Each section is based on the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the day from October, 2021.
I. decolonize, v.
The tendrils of empire strangle nutrients from the soil. Echoes in the water, the air, your mind itself. It must be undone.
II. septemfluous, adj.
Before they came, many rivers flowed through our land. We prospered — drank, ate well, danced.
III. nidgetty, adj.
When we tell them how things used to be, how we miss those days, they tell us it was a long time ago, it should be forgiven.
IV. anaphor, n.
Every few years, they create a new term for us, convoluting our history, obscuring our identity.
V. niveous, adj.
They came in fine silks, pale as sea foam on the edge of the tide. They brought books with illegible script, weapons beyond comprehension.
VI. queuemanship, n.
Whenever we bring up their unfulfilled promises, we are told to wait our turn. It is clear that the only option is to reclaim our space ourselves.
VII. panoplied, adj.
Rest assured in who you are, who your people are, what you are capable of together.
VIII. mocktail, n.
They think acknowledging what was stolen is enough to make us equal.
IX. cockamamie, n. and adj.
They put on costumes with our sacred symbols for their own amusement.
X. foolosophy, n.
Conquest. Claim. Consume. Conquest. Claim. Consume. Conquest. Claim. Consume. Conquest. Claim. Consume. Conquest. Claim. Consume. Conquest. Claim. Consume. Conquest. Claim. Consume. Conquest. Claim. Consume.
XI. plutomania, n.
ever enough. It is never enough for them. You can seea flame crawl across the landscape in their wake.
XII. mariachi, n. and adj.
We sing our songs in earnest. They sing our songs in jest.
XIII. cakeage, n.
They bring their own crops to our land, because, apparently, our food isn’t good enough. They insist we learn to grow it for them.
XIV. redivivus, adj.
It all seems over,like a waning glacier at summer’s end. It feels like we will wither to nothing, our blood run dry. But these lungs still hold air, these hands still make fists. We will take back what is ours.
XV. zeeping, adj.
A battlecry from graves centuries-old rings in our ears.
XVI. fairy bells, n.
Even flowers hang their heads in mourning.
XVII. almond butter, n.
Their cities are built with concrete made from crushed bones dug up from mass graves of our ancestors.
XVIII. hákarl, n.
They dig up our dead to adorn their museums. They always speak of us in past tense.
XIX. beardom, n.
We come from the bears who protect the mountain. Their strength flows in our veins.
XX. dingolay, v.
Limbs fling wildly with the licks of the fire center stage. Our history told with our bodies to the rhythm of our drums.
XXI. otototoi, int. (and n.)
Our history is full of people who did much to bring us the world we once had. We carry our loss in our chests, nestled between our lungs and heart.
XXII. fastenment, n.
Knowing what was, what will be, makes the safety of our children our top priority.
XXIII. festie, n.
On the autumnal equinox, we used to celebrate that year’s harvest with other groups from around the area. We even invited them after their arrival. We shared our crops, lodging, warmth. They invited more of their people year after year, put gates around the festival grounds, then charged us to gain admittance.
XXIV. fast foodery, n.
Convenience, they argue, is the heart of their market. Affordable, they say, for our low-income community.
XXV. almuce, n.
We ride in horseback, furs handed down from our ancestors under our cloaks. They will hear the thunder of our hooves roll across the hills. They will hear the roar of our grief and anger roll across the sky.
XXVI. aloed, adj.
To think of what was lost, how much cannot be undone, stirs a storm.
XXVII. amrita, n.
Before we ride, we bask in the moon’s light, drink the blood of gods for their courage, their power.
XXVIII. badman, n.
They tell stories of us stealing their food, capturing their children, killing without conscience. They call us savages.
XXIX. nostalgist, n.
When they talk about the good old days, we don’t see idyllic villages, friendly neighbors. We see hateful slurs graffitied on the walls outside our prison cells.
XXX. unmute, v.
For generations, they took from us. For generations, they kept us from telling our stories. It ends now. It ends with us.
XXXI. hattock, n.
Our ancestors’ spirits hover over us as we fight for freedoms taken from them, for homes taken from them. Our future — our children’s children’s futures — will be full of lush crops, wide-open spaces, our wrinkled faces telling our stories.