Old Ice Warrior/New Poem

Old Ice Warrior

The sledge moves slowly

through the blizzard.

 

Father, son, dogs in front,

mother, daughter behind.

 

The old man uses a stone

taken out from in between

his furs to scratch a head

old as ice.

 

He knows the young people

of today have no memory,

but the snow will hold him.

 

The snow will learn the mould

of his body by heart, and that

comforts his tired soul.

 

He closes his eyes to better

remember the past

– the birth of his first son,

 

the autumn his wife did not

come home after she stroked

the heart of another man.

 

He can hardly see the shape

of his firstborn.

 

He is an ice warrior

no longer, and the sledge

is heavy enough already

for the few dogs left.

He can see their ribs.

 

He cries because he knows

it will be the last time,

and frozen tears won’t matter

on the face of a dead man.

 

His family do not turn around

when he lets his body fall,

lets it hit the ground.

 

White whales will come

to shore to mourn, but quietly,

for when the Inuk sleeps,

he is not to be disturbed.

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