In 1908, when Emily Carr painted the First Nation totem poles in British Columbia, she heard their strong talk roaring across the wild beaches. They were still speaking their truth even though they’d been wind beaten and faded, even though many were abandoned. This was forever strong talk.
Emily Carr was alone in the sweltering heat with the relentless mosquitoes when she talked to the ghosts and inhaled the strong talk of the ancestors. She could have wished for comfort and gone home, instead she kept on painting and that old talk spoke again through her determined paintbrush.
Sometimes you want to tell the world your story. Or maybe tell one person, just one truth.
I was scared when I was little, there were voices in the dark and they were sneaking in the window, mean and ugly. They told me that my voice was insignificant, told me I must be quiet to survive and I believed them.
What if I became a totem and told my own story? What if I was thirty-feet tall and blue, yellow, red and green and carved with the strength of my voice? Could there be strong talk in me? Would someone like Emily hear it? I’d like to think she would paint me with riots of color, thick coats of bright paint and layers of voice.
I want to be an instrument like that and make my own strong talk, spitting my words like wind on a reed. My breath would travel upwards from my roots to my heart, over my chords and out of my mouth, gaining power as it flowed over the wood to your ears, then strong talk would roar out of me.
photo credit: Ancient Totem pole of Gitanyow via photopin (license)
photo credit: Kenting Roar via photopin (license)
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