Carter Meland is a writer and educator of White Earth Anishinaabe heritage. For the Summer 2018 edition of Mia’s Art Inspires series, he wrote the following fiction piece inspired by Jennifer Steinkamp’s video installation 6EQUJ5, which is projected on the ceiling of Mia’s Target Wing rotunda.
Feel stone underfoot, men, feel stone there. Stone accepts no footprint, men, but stone think of men and the passing impression of men.
Stone think long, men, stone think hard.
Yes, hard, men say. Stone is hard.
No, men, no. Listen! Stone think hard, but stone is not hard, men. Stone is tender. Tender in their care of men, men. Tender in their hard thoughts. Tender in their long ways.
Tender, stone seeks stories overhead, men, the stars there. Stone hears stars, men, swirling in the long dark. Stars burning through the hard cold distance, men, burning their own heat, their own light until the long dark swallows them and they turn to unlit distance.
Then stone speaks, men. To men, men. Listen! Stone speaks tenderly, slowly, longly. A word takes a week, a sentence a month. Patience, men. Listen! Men must stop to hear stone. Men must stop!
When speaking of stars, men, stone becomes star, and when men listen to stone, men, men become the passing impression of hard cold distance. Men, unlit stars in the long dark.
Stone’s slow words are starprints, men, long impressions left in the swirling path of stars, men, the hard distance of it unmeasured until stone speaks.
Tenderly, stone speaks of unseen stars, men, stars swirling darkly overhead. Stone speaks their burning thoughts of cold distance, their hard impressions of the long dark, and stone becomes star, men, stone becomes light, becomes heat. Feel stone there, men. Feel them.
Listen! Stones are stars swirling underfoot.
Note to Readers: In Anishinaabe Indian teachings, Misaabe comes to people when they are lost and tries to set them on the right path. In my creative work, he thinks all humanity — all “men” — have lost their way and his words are meant to remind them of things they’ve forgotten. In English, we call Misaabe “Sasquatch.” Other “squatch thoughts” like this one can be found in my novel, Stories for a Lost Child.