Powerful Echo/New Poem (Rough First Draft)
Rough first draft of a new poem written this afternoon.
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.