Snow Sucked Clean/New Poem (Rough First Draft)

Snow Sucked Clean

He knows the way home,

even when the moon has been

consumed. But this night, the air

is colder than he can ever remember.

 

The inside of his small head

feels like an igloo’s outer walls.

 

He is young enough to recall

being wrapped in caribou skins,

suckling from his mother’s breast,

watching the world from over her shoulder.

 

But today, he began to learn the way

of man. He now knows the sensitive

spots of dogs; legs, tips of the ears, nose.

 

In a few days, he will be taught

how to control the whip.

 

He moves quickly, can smell

the dogs before he sees them,

hear their fur crackle with frost.

 

He can taste the coats of the animals

his father introduced him to,

smell their damp underbellies.

 

They bury his small body in chaos.

He hears the drumbeat of the dead.

 

His stomach swiftly becomes

a black voids, his intestines a rich,

once in a lifetime treat.

 

The heat from his blood clots

into fog, white as the Arctic fox’s

deep winter coat.

 

****

The hours pass.

 

A new outcropping of ice gathers

around the door.

 

The waiting father naked, seeping

in sweat, meets the scent

of his dead son.

 

The dogs have sucked the snow

clean, there are no bones,

no sealskin gloves, no nothing.

 

His first born will no longer crunch

seal eyes, eat the grass from the first

stomach of a reindeer.

 

He will not wear the pair of bearskin pants

his mother was sewing in secret.

 

There is less air to breathe now.

 

The father thinks how he could have

used his thumbs to press back in his

son’s guts, if I would have arrived on time

 

The mourning makes the home cold.

The Father speaks of hope.

 

He will travel with us on bear hunts.

he will move in front with the dogs

and meet the horizon.

 

Outdoors, dogs sleep, tails tucked

under noses, warm meat digesting

in tight, swollen bellies.

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