Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
This Accident of Being Lost
“Circles Upon Circles”
A lyrical moment reined in by reality check…
I see a couple approaching you, and I hang back and wait. I look out onto Ball Lake and disappear the cottages, the docks, the manufactured beaches and waterfront. I imagine just two people in a canoe, with un-fancy sticks from the bush, knocking rice into the boat. I imagine my arms circling, circles upon circles. I hear the grains hitting the bottom of the boat. I hear the wind. I see ducks and geese sitting and eating and smiling because they showed us this first and they remember. There is nothing more gentle than this — nothing is killed, nothing is pierced, nothing stolen, nothing is picked even. I sing the song the old one taught me, even though he can only remember the first two lines. It’s repetitive and you’ll get lost in the canter. I suppose that’s why it is a ricing song. Actually it’s the only ricing song we have left.
The attention shifts back to that couple…
You’re still talking to the couple and I wonder what’s taking so long. I know you hate idle chit-chat. Your people recount the weather report and the news as a way of connecting without adding a single interesting thought to their tell. It’s boring as fuck for me and I wear noise-cancelling headphones in public so I can’t hear it. The kids are already in the backseat, plugged into their ipods, lost in screen. I walk by and I hear, I thought only the Indians did that. The sun spotlights his camo jacket and ball cap, and her faded high-waist jeans, her perm, her tennis shoes, their pride at living rurally instead of in the city. I turn and say, “What makes you think I’m not an Indian?” and I keep walking, leaving him to deal with the aftermath.
Note the shift between “you” and “him”. With everything going on in this brief passage it is easy to miss. It wrenches the reader from the position of addressee to mere interlocutor. Roman Jakobson shifters. Émile Benveniste on pronouns.
“Them” as a “then” >>> you then him
A rupture in time and community.
And so for day 2276