Ariel Baker-Gibbs ruminates on moving, maps, and mountains after reading Sherman Alexie's What I've Stole, What I've Earned, which she has rated "top notch".
Interaction With Sherman Alexie's What I've Stolen, What I've Earned
i like packing more than unpacking. i like packing away things in boxes because everything fits together and i can look at all of it at once, even when it doesn’t make sense, like why would the head scratcher nestle so perfectly on top of a scarf that’s next to a bag of q-tips that are on top of books on top of a map. the map which was given to me by my mother’s childhood friend, whose husband died of a heart attack two days ago on the island. and the map is of the island. as a child i had gone on his fishing boat across the lines that i can see on the map, of depth and of height. the island is a mountain in the water, and the island is still a mountain. and we can see the lines as they appear on the cliffs and mountains of the island. we can see how real they are, how true.
the island is still unresolved treaty land. this is also on a map. up here, the fishing town where i was born, bearing the name of the K’ómoks band, holding the round letters of Comox. the round circles of topography, the vertical conclusion of a mountain into thin air. this is how we do and how we claim. we say nobody knows who it belongs to, we just know who went there before and we know who goes there now. we draw it up, we write it down. we prevaricate. it feels like it belongs to us. it belongs by not belonging. it does not belong to us but we paid money for it.
what it is worth to be in a place. to be soothed by its beauty, that soothed so many. to be not from it, but to come to it, even from birth. to love it uneasily and helplessly. we eat fish from the strait and potatoes from the garden and everything tastes like earth’s butter. we sit there and look at the same silhouette of the mountains behind the mountains as has been there for years and years and they remain etched on our retinas long after it becomes dark. that line stays.
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.