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Mourning song. A poem by Shalan Joudry

Mourning song

i arrived empty-handed
at the door of my brethren
having failed the foresight of service
offering then only the peaceful nature
of ordinary things
like sadness

i imagined feeling pitied
standing there looking in
elephantly out of place
and yet i held my space
there among my sisters
i sat stiff and hip-joined
merging with their mourning songs
that precede death

i obey this kind of power
not because they are wise
but because they are holy

when it was my turn to lead
my voice faltered
abandoned me
so that there were only the drums
for a whole verse
we let the beats resound in the room
the vacancy of chant like a failing body
the song beating against the walls
of such a structured place
wanting free
like spirit
on its way out


Shalan Joudry is a Mi’kmaw storyteller and poet from the traditional district of Kespukwitk (southwest Nova Scotia).

After many years of live performance and oral storytelling, Shalan made the bridge over to print with her first book of poetry, “Generations Re-merging” (Gaspereau Press, 2014).

Currently, Shalan lives and works in her home community of Bear River First Nation where she merges her projects as an ecologist, cultural interpreter and storyteller.

Generations re-merging is a collection of wonderful and powerful poems. It is published by Gaspereau Press, which means it’s also a very handsome book. I highly recommend it.





Mourning song is reproduced courtesy of Shalan Joudry and Gaspereau Press.

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