Kaitlin Debicki, "Kahkhwí:yo"

you make my
                              sap run
sticky sweet
                              down my

Those nishin people say
Nanabush made it water
so the people wouldn’t
lick all day

(you’ve got to earn the syrup!).

Maybe that’s why onkwehón:we
call the maple wahta

“Nothing earned, nothing gained!”

You tap where I open and
collect the wahta drip and drop.
Your breath builds a fire
your tongue stir-stirring around
circles circling thickening
sweet squirt
                              into your bucket.
That first food—

It brings us back to life
after long, cold, hungry

(Nanabush would be proud.)



"Kahkhwí:yo" was the winner of 2022's Open Season Poetry Award.

From The Malahat Review's spring issue #218.