Pictographs at Superior


No, these images cannot be
described – neither
poetry nor prose can
circumscribe these etchings
on stone, cyphers of tenacity
sketched on rock, scars of strength
anchored across
cheeks.  My cheeks
now moistened as I feel
this place dripping divine: mine
the gain as  I lay down any sense
of superiority,
of expertise,
of being high priest.

No, none of these
obtain because here I am
a drop of water crashing against rock;
a tear salting skin-on-fire;
a dropping of the guard into the
truth that being a drop is more
than enough.

5 thoughts on “Pictographs at Superior

  1. diannegray says:

    Very powerful words Allen.

  2. shoreacres says:

    It amazes me that two countries sharing a border and a good bit of history can seem worlds apart. I always have so many questions about your posts — what pictographs? where? what etchings? what are the ribbons? and so forth.

    Still, that’s only the first response. Once I have that over with, I begin connecting: remembering other sites that I do know, remembering other native cultures that surely share some of the same characteristics as the one you’re writing about.

    And I understand, and agree with, the proposition that being a drop is more than enough. The poem seems to be communicating the silence of the “civilized” as we confront mysteries deeper than our technology.

    • agjorgenson says:

      The pictographs are found on the northern shore of Lake Superior, and are hard to date, but believed to be ancient. The place they are located is considered somewhat sacred by indigenous folk in the area. They are images of hunt, travel, worship etc. The ribbons, not too sure. First nations in our area use ribbons a lot, but generally with yellow, red, black and white. They might be from a visitor from another part of North America? Or maybe they aren’t indigenous at all, just tied there by a child who had left over ribbons from his birthday? At any rate, they are tied to a stake in the rock. There are a number of these there, some of which have ropes attached, since the access to the pictographs is on some rock that is very slippery. Getting back up the rock would be most difficult if they waves were up at all.

      But I’m intrigued by your questions about references etc. I experience this fair bit, since I probably find myself in the US a few times each year. There is quite a lot that overlaps, but that sometimes makes the differences more pronounced, or confusing. Broad cultural references – from television, literature, etc – I usually get, but local preoccupations, or terms or ways of the viewing the world are sometimes lost on me. It makes it most interesting, and in a way rather different from my experience of visiting European nations, for example, where I expect things to be drastically different and then am surprised when they aren’t.

      Of all the places i have visited, I would say Australia was the most like Canada (aside from driving on the left hand side of the road). I really felt at home there.

      Interesting to ponder…

  3. […] at the narrows found in the middle of Mazinaw Lake served as the canvas for a massive number of pictographs, created by First Nations.  It is not overly surprising that these massive cliffs became the site […]

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