Johnson, E. Pauline (Tekahionwake). “Brier: Good Friday.” In Flint and Feather. 1912. Toronto: Musson, 1920. 67.

Ninety-nine years ago today, E. Pauline Johnson died, here in Vancouver, of breast cancer. She was three days from her fifty-third birthday. In celebration of her birth, ostensibly in honour of International Women’s Day this week, a photo exhibition will be held at Lost Lagoon Nature House in Stanley Park this coming Saturday, 10 March 2012, but today I would like to commemorate her death by posting a poem from her collection Flint and Feather.

Brier

Good Friday

Because, dear Christ, your tender, wounded arm
   Bends back the brier that edges life’s long way,
That no hurt comes to heart, to soul no harm,
   I do not feel the thorns so much to-day.

Because I never knew your care to tire,
   Your hand to weary guiding me aright,
Because you walk before and crush the brier,
   It does not pierce my feet so much to-night.

Because so often you have harkened to
   My selfish prayers, I ask but one thing now,
That these harsh hands of mine add not unto
   The crown of thorns upon your bleeding brow.

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