365 Poems – 188 The Arctic Years (Rough First Draft)

The Arctic Years

Death was tender last night.

I experienced his warmth

and influence.


He left without me,

but before he went, he said

the arctic years are still to come.

Recollect the freedom

the north will bring to you.


He turned porridge with

a wooden spoon, and fed it to me,

while I dried snow from my blue skin

with his rough robe, and watched

the candle he’d made from bear fat burn.


I witnessed real dark last night.

The shadows didn’t startle me,

but I couldn’t go forward into them.


Death held my hands and said

the dead will always be waiting.

Explore the shadows of the forests first,

the darkness of the tundra in winter.


The past is rotten. Leave it outside

the arctic circle. Leave it behind

with the plait you chopped and stuffed

into your own mouth, so you

could stand the pain and try

to enjoy the release.


Listen, your dust is not ready

to settle yet. It’s not the time

for blood on your breath.


Work from within. Look forward

to spring from a distance, where

you can quickly drift into the great,

white expanse of the north.