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Issue 136

Kinstillatory Gathering
by Karyn Recollet

Kinstillatory gathering spaces, wishful thinking through dimmed light, making meaning out of the shadows because sometimes shadow-glyphs are all that we have left as our means for time travel. Ancestors peeking through cedar, “sometimes she hears them voicing and claims that she felt a tickle from her ancestor on her back.” Her dreams I pay attention to over my own. Leaves have traces too, they have memories written in the curves, contours and veins. Their smell is like old paper, yet sweeter, and in the winter, I long for their touch. If I place this leaf on my face, will it feel like skin, like that touch that chubby cheeks long for from momma’s hands? Her six-year-old self has become my childhood, like mine infused with hers from the moment she came into this spatial realm. My cheeks have stretched thinner – some call them Cree cheekbones, but I think of them more as fatigue. Sometimes this plain, grass… soil… gives the feeling of a chill, and I need to put my hat on… And think of all of the hipsters back home, those on Ishpadiinaa who fail to know the real meaning of the bones ground up in the concrete… that this really isn’t about them. Before Jimmy Bean, there was this muskeg. Sadly my tastebuds still want that soya chai latte. This my sad truth.

  • Karyn Recollet, image from BUSH gallery, 2014.

So I pour this latte into my Thermos and pretend it is muskeg but everyone can smell its pretentious sweetness, and I feel so dang urban. Then I come to this space and the languages we speak are kinstillatory – ally holding space here. He says I say “space” too much, hold onto space like it is my life-blood… and that is revealing. You see space, particularly dark matter, is my jam. And dark matter is magic; it is that wondrous active presence that is moving, vibrating, surging… formulating, ideating, creating… You see, I stretch these star map hides so that you can build that frame and we can create maps to tomorrow. Align them as though they are precious bundles scrolled, stretched, tanned, scraped, revealing hidden messages that lead to how we can be together here in this space, this land… that over ows the boundaries of water, subaqueous and celestial. “All is land,” she whispers and this is somehow always enough.

These layers always remind me of the strata in rock we are supposed to know the names of in public school, but I never paid attention. I like this idea of the ephemeral, I like to think of my loving as ephemeral even though it hurts the heart – these absences, presences… this ow of back and forth… makes life sometimes quite lonesome. If I go back to the land, they say, maybe I will feel… home, belonging… something. And I believe them a little ’cause I know that me and the land… maybe we don’t have that great of a connection and, if I were to be totally honest with you, this land scares the shit out of me. If you were to drop me in the middle of land alone – any land – I would be afraid for my life. These disappearances, these absences of Indigenous lives taken to land – that ditch, that water’s edge – these are scary places for those of us whose bodies gesture to the otherwise possibilities of alternative worldings. But please don’t forget about me. Invite me to this gathering of people in land, on land, in its underneath and overhead spaces so that I can feel safe. I need you all, and something in me knows that when we gather, we are stronger.

So we tag these trees with the promise of our futurities, we sing these dark spaces into light and gather around shadow-making against deer hide as we collectively embody our love letters to the future. Marker trees – paint – brighter colours than could have ever been possible because these times require neon – lots of it. And I know that you wear colours well I have seen it… all the colours all the time, you say. And sometimes I think that these are ancient future teachings on how to be in these worlds together. You teach me that… and the cedar… the images through cedar… the making, the just frick’en “do it” ethic is brave like that first night in the bush. Make that mark – tag this space – is a marker that I am here, I am present here, others might know that I am here – this shit is scary but so necessary. Ephemerality doesn’t mean erasure, it is being the most present in this moment. The tiny feet, handprints in concrete that Grampie insisted on moulding into the re pit… a part of me will forever still be there… my heart… my love as rupturous as I know it to be. I have this relationship now with fractals in concrete… as though piecing together ancestral light to acknowledge my presence in Tkaronto. We love taking pictures and sharing them. I think this is part of fractal relationality, kinstillatory presencing in the urban spaces that we love. I bring this silver fake leather coat to the bush because fractals are a part of me and I need to radiate this so that the star that I can see from that Tkaronto balcony recognizes that I have moved… and that I am not alone.

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