ai ya

April 28, 2016

The following unpublished poem is about the pain I experienced when I was sexually abused by an older student in grade school and later by a doctor in a clinic examination room.

Pain is an interesting thing. When you are in it (especially when you are a child or a young adult), you think it will never go away and that you cannot possibly endure it.

Then, something happens, even unexpectedly, and the healing begins.

ai ya
(for rod) — a love song

i’ll tell you this
now is the time to find your medicine man
you’ll find him now
legs crossed smoking sweetgrass on the open plains
or standing straight and strong as an arrow within you

i’ll tell you this
in Saskatchewan
for one deadend winter
my skeletal body was violated every day
five days a week
lost in a blizzard of terror

in the spring
it stopped
i woke at dawn
the wind sighed my relief
the sun wrapped itself around my bent shoulders
amber soft of a newborn buffalo

then i heard the medicine man
ai ya, ai ya, ai ya, ai ya
his tongue stroked my body
licked away the bloody semen with his throat
drummed away the pain

days went by
the sore is healing nicely, the doctor said
stiff penis in hand

i should have never left the medicine man
but i had no choice

i tell you this
not to lend you my pain
(it’s small enough now anyway)

i tell you this
to help you find the good medicine for you

For more about Tanya, go to


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