Poems for a Canadian Thanksgiving: October 2012


Eric Gansworth

Cross / PolliNation


And look here, you three

sisters grow together

each providing things

the others lack: support,

food, protection, and each

time you pull away from one

another, risking everything

you tear apart your world,

our world. Each time you offer

the line up, we will add one

purple bead to your white strand

reminding you of the ways

you put us all in danger

with each small tug

how you pull in opposition you

jerk on the string of beads

like seed in the wind

leaning in unforeseen directions

moment, hour, day, week, in another

place you land

and for what, to start over

reforming yourselves as

us in endless variation,

dark color, light color,

diluting your heritage

we disappear for that moment

then strengthen, regenerate ourselves

and embrace.

.     .     .

Eric Gansworth is a member of the Onondaga Nation located in western New York State, USA.
His poem discourses upon the symbolic Three Sisters of Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) society:

Corn, Beans and Squash.


Editor’s note:

‘Sweet corn’ or ‘papoon’, of the grilled/steamed “corn on the cob” variety, is eaten with the hands and is messy and delicious.  Other types of “maize” (the family name for all corn) are used for stews or porridges such as ‘pozole’ or ‘hominy grits’.  To grow The Three Sisters a small hillock of earth is formed.  Corn is planted at the ‘summit’, beans planted in a circle around the corn, and squash at the ‘foot’ of the earth-mound.  The beans will give nitrogen to the soil, the corn stalks will provide poles for the beans to climb and spread upon, and the far-extending vines and wide leaves of the squash plants will shade the earth-mound that hosts them all, helping to retain adequate moisture in the soil.  The Three Sisters are much-appreciated Native-American contributions to our contemporary diet – particularly at Thanksgiving.


.     .     .     .     .

“For the Fruits of All Creation”


For the fruits of all creation – thanks be to God

For the gifts to every nation – thanks be to God

For the ploughing, sowing, reaping, silent growth while we are sleeping,

future needs in earth’s safekeeping – thanks be to God.


In the just reward of labour – God’s will is done

In the help we give our neighbour – God’s will is done

In our worldwide task of caring for the hungry and despairing,

in the harvests we are sharing – God’s will is done.


For the harvests of the Spirit – thanks be to God

For the good we all inherit – thanks be to God

For the wonders that astound us, for the truths that still confound us,

Most of all, that Love has found us – thanks be to God.


.     .     .

“For the Fruits of All Creation”  is Hymn #802 in The Book of Praise (1997),

sung out of by go-ers to Presbyterian Churches in Canada.

Music:  Welsh traditional / Words:  Fred Pratt Green


.     .     .

Ngizhemanidoom, sema ngiimiinagoo wiinamaayaanh nangwaa.  Gagwejimin wiizhiwendamaan maanda miijim miinawa zhiwenmishinaang nangwaa.  Miigwech ndinaanaanik gewe wesiinhak, okaanak, bineshiinhak, miinawa giigonhik, kinagwa gwayaa gaabigitnaamwat wiinwa bimaadiziwaan maanpii akiing niinwe wiimaadiziiyaang.  Miigwech ge ndikaadami netawging miinawa maanwaang gaamiizhiyaang wiimiijiyaang wiizongziiyaang nangwaa.

Miigwech Ngizhemanidoom miigwech.


An Every-Day Anishinaabe Prayer of Thanks,

translated from the Ojibwe language

( Anishinaabemowin or   ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᒧᐎᓐ )


My Creator!  Tobacco was given to me to help me pray today.  I ask you in a good way to bless this food and to bless us today.  We say thank you to all those animals, wild and domestic, the birds and the fish – everyone that gave up his or her life here upon the earth – so that we can live.  We also say thank you for the vegetables and the fruits that you have given to us, so that we can have strength today.

Thank you, my Creator, thank you.


For the above Ojibwe-language Prayer we are grateful to:

Kenny Pheasant of The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.