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.