Sea Stories: Low Tide at St Andrews by Emily Pauline Johnson/Tekahionwake

Most widely known by her English name Emily Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake (1861 – 1913) was the daughter of a Mohawk hereditary clan chief father and an English-born mother. Her parents encouraged her and her siblings to learn and respect both their Mohawk and English backgrounds, but it was not easy. Tekahionwake means 'double-life'. At times this must have felt a most fitting name.

Tekahionwake was a prolific writer, and became one of the key figures of Canadian literature and is considered a "Person of National Historic Significance in Canada". In her Poem "Low Tide at St Andrews, Tekahionwake offers us a glimpse into life  in the Atlantic Canadian province of New Brunswick. 

The long red flats stretch open to the sky,
Breathing their moisture on the August air.
The seaweeds cling with flesh-like fingers where
The rocks give shelter that the sands deny;
And wrapped in all her summer harmonies
St. Andrews sleeps beside her sleeping seas.

The far-off shores swim blue and indistinct,
Like half-lost memories of some old dream.
The listless waves that catch each sunny gleam
Are idling up the waterways land-linked,
And, yellowing along the harbor’s breast,
The light is leaping shoreward from the west.

And naked-footed children, tripping down,
Light with young laughter, daily come at eve
To gather dulse and sea clams and then heave
Their loads, returning laden to the town,
Leaving a strange grey silence when they go,—
The silence of the sands when tides are low.