Without the words wasted words all those words and nights I poured myself into you. Thirty seven and I handed the pulp of my heart, sacrificed it on your pulpit, watched it expand to exploding until drowning, and I was five years old again, begging my father to love me, to let me sit on his lap, to turn those brown eyes on me and see me, just see this little heart, waiting. 

G’zaagin. My heart is open to you. 

Born like a sliced sturgeon, with a heart bleeding opened and pulling all the splintered love-edges into me. The slicing, my body, all those throbbing eggs exposed under the drum of hands maneuvering the body, the meat of me, your hunger. 

When you came and sacrificed me, broke me with those steady hands, I saw your white hands pulling me out of the water and into your wide and laughing mouth like I was still underwater. I hear the sounds of your voice now from my memory of swimming the caves and from the swimming of your daughter’s shape in my belly but you are full, my love stuck to the walls of my belly like petroglyphs and still I persist somehow, gills pulsing under the thick air. I am still here when you are not. 

Niigoshkaa: it is broken.

Lesley Belleau is Anishinaabekwe, born and raised in Ketegaunseebee (Garden River First Nation), outside of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Lesley is the author of a short story collection called The Colour of Dried Bones, a novel entitled Sweat, and has published poems, prose, plays and essays internationally. The mother of five children, she is currently a fourth-year Indigenous Studies PhD student at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.