365 Poems/32 – At the core of it all (Very Rough First Draft)

At the core of it all

Alone, under a solid roof of snow,

I deliver you onto caribou skins.

I tie your umbilical cord with sinew,


gently hold your small mouth

against my breast. You feed

and sleep. Outside, blizzards

moan for summer.


I dress you in an arctic hare cap

a hood of caribou fawn, ears still attached,

tips dark as the soot that turned the raven black.




We have missed the migration and

your fathers stomach is caving inwards.

I watch his voice working to get out

before he makes a noise.


I want to feed you the berries

we collected late summer,

but you are still too young,

a little, warm, wriggling weight,

naked against my bare back.


Your brother and uncle and father

take it in turns to cut snow blocks,

arrange them in a circular pattern

with a small tunnel for the entrance.


They pack openings, crevices and gaps

with snow, to prevent the wind

from whistling your name

for a short while.


Your little face pinches as I pull you

out over my head. You are too shocked

to cry, holding tightly  to your soapstone

carving of an ice bear.


Your father nudges his exposed nose

against yours, then pushes your tiny body

through the tight, small entrance,

and closes it up with another block

of tightly compacted snow.


We burn your atayuq, your hare skin socks,

your seal skin boots, smaller than one of my hands,

and in silence, we move further inland

while your soul travels North, then onwards.