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.