Poetry / Ron Riekki
:: Chiegar, Saami Word Meaning “Old Snow Dug Up By a Reindeer” (With Each Line’s Final Word from a Poem by Kevin Cole) ::
“to those familiar with their ways” –Kevin Cole, from “Deer Fording the Missouri in Early Afternoon” Diermmes clutched a rainbow in one hand—O, the ways he’d crush yellow when angered, blue dripping, startling the world with color from his anger. (All last afternoon we talked about Saami mythology and I said how much I despise the four-letter word myth, how it’s tied to rumor, all the ways story becomes hid.) Vuorwro would suck souls from ears, putting a straw inside the skull; the only protection was to have water in your room at all times. My girlfriend, Saami too, keeps a shoal in a glass by the bed, her rainbowed four-winds cap a mantle that she said she would kill Diermmes if he touched it. We are hooves, my girlfriend and I, reindeer in blood; even when our hearts rest they still are filled with aurora borealis, our arteries that bound with ice. I am so goddamn Arctic that I always suppose I’ll die in snow. In Saami, north means where the water is, not where a compass needle is sucked. Grandma drowned off of an island in Sápmi, an island so beautiful the relatives didn’t complain, the lichen stands up there and prays to the world, the way that the Greeks bow to olives, except we are prayers, are stars, are reindeer, a cross of reindeer-star-prayer, and I love the one time I got to run through a river with reindeer, all the things of the world silenced so that I just experienced life. This is my story, my connection, my culture, my heagga, I share with you this afternoon.
From the writer
:: Account ::
I’m not sure if there is a poetic technique where you take the final word from each line of another poem and then write your own poem using those end-line words, but Sir Ian McKellen gave me the idea when he did his wonderful analysis of the “Tomorrow, and tomorrow” speech from Macbeth, where he laid out how critical those punching final line’s words are. I love poems that pay homage to other poets, and so that homage aspect is inherent to the technique. And I’ve also found that I never have writer’s block if I use this form, a form I like to call riekkis, a Saami word for ring (how there is a marriage between two poems with the technique). I hope other poets would honor me by doing this with one of my own original poems, or even with this very poem, where it gets to continue cyclically (with the startling prayer of story).
Ron Riekki’s books include And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917–2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Michigan State University Press, 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes Best Regional Fiction), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (Wayne State University Press, 2014 Michigan Notable Book awarded by the Library of Michigan), and U.P.: a novel (Ghost Road Press, 2008).