365 Poems/93 Little Whale (Rough First Draft)
As I slip out of the hut
I put my hands
towards the rising sun.
The water near the shore
churns, and above
the lip of the tide
a Greenland whale appears.
I am almost shoulder to shoulder,
when you step out
through its mouth.
We talk until dark starts
to beat around our heads.
Over the months,
my loneliness dies
and one night, you stay
long enough to leave a light mark,
before departing for the broad oceans.
I feel my husband’s fury before I see him
and as you are pulling on your whale skin,
he flings a harpoon.
Inspired by a Siberian folk tale.
Your body spurts a blood fountain,
and you disappear bellow the waves.
Our worship reappears in the form
of a cold love child, a primordial dancer.
I keep him in a leather bucket
filled with water, but quickly,
everything becomes too small.
I dig a hole outside, smear fat
over the cracks, drop stones to cover
the bottom, then fill it with water.
He quickly outgrows it,
and I take him to the sea.
He swims close to the shore,
and come up onto the beach
so he can feed from my breast.
But gradually, he becomes bolder,
and start to feed from the sea.
In autumn, he swims away
with another whale, only returning
the following spring bringing others
into the shore.
Because of our son, I never lack
for meat or light during winter
But the neighbouring tribe
have hateful blood in their veins.
Three gulls are flying overhead
when our son is harpooned and killed.
It has been a year to the day since
I watched blood thread the tide.
I climb down into the deep hole I dug
and layered with stones. I sit quietly
while the clouds migrate across the sky,
then climb out and move towards the sea,
a blade of walrus ivory in my hand.