365 Poems/93 Little Whale (Rough First Draft)

Little Whale

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.