365 Poems – 190 Whistling At The Lights

Whistling At The Lights

I know that in winter

seal is better than caribou.

 

I can wait longer at a seal hole

than any other man in the village,

but your father still laughs at my igloos,

and refuses me your hand.

 

I know to cut blocks from a

wind packed snowdrift.

To curve them upwards

and fit them closely together.

 

But there is never enough speed

in my fingers, to finish before

the others, before shadows

swallow the sun.

 

I know not to whistle at the lights,

as they’d come down and cut off my head.

 

I watch you sewing your amauti *

with your bone needle and sinew thread,

with the compartment for a small child

at the back, below the hood.

 

In your belly, a child that is not mine

circles, and the pain is worse

than when I helped my Grandfather

turn his clothes inside out.

 

I build my igloo slowly,

smoothing each block with care,

as if nursing a friend back to health

after a bear attack.

 

daylight seeps through the ceiling,

and I think of when language

with you was impossible,

because I loved you so much.

 

I think of the hard times I carved

into a knife handle.

 

I wanted to last a lifetime with you,

but my life was minus life.

 

Seeing your belly bloom

under your skins, unfolded

the thread of old and new hurt.

 

I think of the day I turned violent

against the man of your child,

because I wanted the good taste

of your name in my mouth always.

But when you turned to scream at me

you were still so beautiful.

 

I imagine if my hands would

have been quicker, and your father

had let me have you.

 

I imagine searching your body like

my eyes would search broad oceans.

 

I turn my clothes inside out,

hear gulls overhead, and when

the lights flicker, I whistle.

 

* Amauti – parka worn by Inuit women.

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