You gave me a friendship blanket:
it is beautiful.
You didn't spin the wool yourself
or steep it in earth dyes
which you had crushed with a stone
to blood red, nut brown.
You didn't make a loom from branches
weighted down with pebbles.
Dew didn't seep into it;
it wasn't rinsed in a stream
and laid out in the sun to dry.
It doesn't smell of you and isn't pungent
with the smoke from your fires.
You didn't think of me,
dream dreams of me, as you wove it
your fingers chapped and numb.
Your ancestors didn't blow through it
as it hung, misting their breath into yours.
The pattern doesn't reveal
anything about your people;
there are no stories pricked in with the stitches
no clues to hunting grounds or homes.
You gave me a friendship blanket
in the airport departure hall
and you turned into a bird.
This poem was inspired by a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian in New York in 2004 and the Blanket Stories exhibition by Marie Watt.