Keynote responses: Lily Li, Cristalle Smith & Melissa Weiss

2017 summer intensive

Lily Li, Cristalle Smith & Melissa Weiss

Matt Rader, MFA

CRWR 382

Keynote Response 2

July 21, 2017


This keynote response is formulated with an effort to explore the words of Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, Richard Armstrong and Shawn Wilson.  There are many different ways to listen:  listen to speakers, listen to memories, listen to the land, listen to our research, our children, our families.  We listen with tenderness and invite you into our memories to share the moments when we heard the most.


Track 1-Melissa Weiss

Track 2-Cristalle Smith

Track 3-Lily Li


Track 1: ca-MAY-len Tea


we drink it room temperature. Yarn over, chain

five. Opa presses dimes

into my palm: zehn, zwanzig, dreißig.

Calls it Shekel time.


single crochet in second chain from hook.


mel-EE-sa. And my sister is the little one.


Opa’s dentures are on the bible. He only

yells once, when I put the Safeway bag

over my head.

You’ll suffocate!


Five place-settings: reheated KD

and half a pickled egg. We dry dishes,

but never the knives.


yarn over, turn.


Schmetterling and auf wiedersehen. Es

ist fünf Uhr

dreißig. Opa hums the ten

second tidy. We stuff Hula Moola

and Hot Wheels into the Glad bag.


slip stitch in remaining chains.


Kiss Opa goodbye. I press

my stuffed elephant to his cheek.

One from Apachoohoo. Slide fingers

over stucco walls. Stairway rails. Hazelnut

trees. Into the mouse-brown

Monte Carlo.


fasten off.


empty mug.






Track 2: Girl Wishes for Aedh, Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven (W.B. Yeats)


Aedh tells me, Write about the power of tenderness.


And he wishes:


Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths

Enwrought with golden and silver light,


I say, I do.


The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half light,


Permed hair in open curls, cut close to scalp.

Hands go soft in menopause and fleeting fecundity.

She passes me a hot chocolate and


Her hand on my hand.

Worn smooth from years,

Back bent in the hot Alberta sun, planting gardens, shucking peas.

Twisting open jars of Hutterite jams and pouring bottles of whiskey.


Ask her to tell a joke and she’ll swear, thin pink lips parting in girlish giggles.

She takes me to Zellars and we steal away in a booth, orange plastic

Pressed wood.

Frothy chocolate, paper cups.


I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;


Aedh asks me, Just how much of you is suffering?


I say, The blood of my mothers runs between my legs.


Tells me tales of chasing gophers from the pastures,

Great Grandma pouring water down holes.

It’s gleeful delight under endless prairie skies

And she remembers enough to remark,

I once had hair as thick as yours.


Aedh, can you hear me? Once a boy came to me and from me.


I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Track 3: 妈妈They Said, But I Never Did



but I never realized.


There was a photo in the very back slot of a grayed blue album

sitting on the bottom corner of our family bookshelf

that I never looked into.




I blew off the dust from the cover and rummaged through the album, “aww”ing occasionally

at the younger version of myself that I’d never seen before, until I saw a girl,

dressed in a flowery sweater who looked be my age.


I didn’t recognize her at first.



I carefully slipped the photo out of the album and into my fingers,

and curiously looked at that girl, smiling widely at me, with a hint of smudged

lipstick. 大红色,其实不适合她, which is why I don’t see that colour

in her bag nowadays. Her hair is tied up in a ponytail, and her face,

ghastly white from the over-exposure of the camera flash, made her seem like a faint

dream. She looks so young.


She’s always said to me: 我像你这么大的时候,blah blah blah.

She’s told me everything then,

and I’ve heard nothing.


I never thought that it was true, that she had a 像我这么大的时候, until that moment

the girl in the picture looked at me straight in the eye.


But it’s just a passing breeze; the words, out of my hand’s reach

flew loudly by my ear, and as it got further it became a whisper, until finally




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