Blood Quantum

when you look at me do you see my blood quantum?

the quantities of who i am poured down

from generation to generation


do you see the lines that pull at me?

from the four directions

the history of Canada

written inside of me


or do you see the floating amoeba

the creatures that hunt my blood

their teeth razor sharp

devouring all that is unclean


do you see the mystery?

the imaginative world that exists inside,

bursts of colour

found only on the other side of universe

composite images seen through faulty telescopes


“Blood Quantum,” a painting by Francine Cunningham, made in conjunction with her poem of the same title. 

Note that only the poem was published in our Emergence Issue.

Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous writer, artist and educator. Her debut book of poems, On/Me (Caitlin Press), is nominated for the 2020 BC and Yukon Book Prizes. She is a recent winner of The Indigenous Voices Award in the 2019 Unpublished Prose Category and of The Hnatyshyn Foundation’s REVEAL Indigenous Art Award. Her fiction has appeared in Grain Magazine as the 2018 Short Prose Award winner, on The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Prose shortlist, Joyland Magazine, The Puritan Magazine and more. You can find out more about her at