Powerful Echo/New Poem (Rough First Draft)

Rough first draft of a new poem written this afternoon.


Powerful Echo

The night you decided not to come back

from sleep, I knew. I didn’t close my eyes.

Instead, I remembered all you had taught me.


To turn the polar bear’s head to the sun

so he can find his way home.


How to keep my chin and cheeks

from getting blackened by cold.


How to find the base of my grief,

manage it with company of friends,

my dogs and narwhal meat.


You had a smile for death. I heard

no gasp of sadness, no struggle,

no unwillingness to let go.


You went as quietly as a seal

from its breathing hole.


You taught me that to make a tattoo

I would need a bone needle, thread

blackened in the soot of a stone oil lamp.


You taught me that during her pregnancy

a woman should not eat caribou tongue

marrow or innards, nor the front paws of an animal.


When I was a child, you recollected how

my mother sliced through my umbilical cord

with a slither of ice, then licked me clean.

How I cried out, demanding a name.


You swallowed worlds, regurgitated them for us,

your family, when the sea froze, days started

to get dark and another kind of cold.


It was been almost a year since I took

the white man’s liquorice out from your pockets

and shared it with the children.


Almost a year since we dressed you

in your most beautiful winter garments,

carefully placed stones across your body.


I have come to you, nearly every day,

to talk, softly, about the people, our village.


My wife’s belly is tight with child.

I put my head close, and can hear

the powerful echo as he turns.

He will have your name.