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Poet Omar Willey's 'incantation' pays tribute to ancestors of Seattle's First Nations

Omar Willey
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Each day during the month of April, KUOW is highlighting the work of Seattle-based poets for National Poetry Month. In this series curated by Seattle Civic Poet and Ten Thousand Things host Shin Yu Pai, you'll find a selection of poems for the mind, heart, senses, and soul.


n "Incantation," poet Omar Willey summons the ancestors of this land and place to remember where we, as guests of this Native land, fit into and contribute to its history and its ongoing life.

Born on Pill Hill, and raised on Beacon Hill, Omar Willey is the publisher of "The Seattle Star," where he sponsors music and poetry events. He is also the head of the obscure annual global music event known as Netlabel Day.


Quiet Salish Sea,
spite and malice mountaintops –
between these frozen waves and igneous land
a strand
of blood, connecting coast to coast,
yin to yang, fossil to footprint –

We summon thee with voice congealed
from lava of our history:
First woman, first artiste,
first to die, first passenger;
first nation to first civilized to
first of the Great Forgetting;
first to flee, first to find,
first to lose, first lost,
first to pass between our forms –
and all who followed thus –

you have borne our struggle in your heels
before we were even ether,
radiated soulful joy from visions
before we could see the lightning;
you have made all paths perfect possible
before we knew there was a journey;

and so in this holy place we gather
in your wake and become silent:
speak through us
move through us
play through us
weep through us
love through us
as we still live through you, humbled.

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