Poetry, please

And when we speak
let it be said

that nothing is lost
in translation.

That our words are true
and tenable.

That we understand
the meaning of “sii,”

the Ohlone word for water,
which is you.

The Ohlone knew this.
They were first of this county,

borne of seawater and
woven reeds to salt

marshes and pickleweeds
and saltwater silvered

by smelt.
They fared

on abalone
and blue elderberry.

Western chokecherry.
Periwinkle.

Oaks.
All flourishing, grace-filled,

transitory.
If I were a weaver,

I would gift you
a basket made of sandbar

willow and tule,
bright as cinnabar.

But I can only write
this poem,

a tributary,
to carry

the weight of water
as it flows and hefts

the meaning of you.
Giver and taker.

And everything that I knew.

*This poem was written by Aileen Cassinetto in honor of the indigenous Ohlone people, first inhabitants and stewards of San Mateo County.