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The Would-Be Whale Eater
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Snow falls like
falling snow, blankets
the land like a blanket
white as white. All is
what it is, nothing more
and nothing less.

Banner considers the Inupiat
who live so far north
the darkness comes to stay
more than a while.
Ever diminishing returns
from the sunrise till
one day the sun sets for good.
Even the sea freezes solid.
And the Inupiat?
The program he’d watched
didn’t say what they did
during the darkness,
only that life there
is difficult, subsistence
they called it, and demands
cooperation and sharing.
Banner believes he might like
belonging to these people
who hunt bowhead whale
from sealskin canoes
during the spring migrations
when the sun has returned
to soften the sea ice.
Like their ancestors
they harpoon a whale
and drag the forty-ton beast
ashore using a block-and-tackle
rig anchored in the ice,
a team of people tugging
the thick rope as if their lives
depend on it. And their lives do.
Afterward the whale is cut
and sliced and parsed among
the whole community, even those
who no longer live the old way
but in cities where the sun changes
regular as clockwork, which it is.

Banner wonders if he could
hunt and kill a polar bear
with nothing but his knife
and his wits would they accept
him as an honorary Inupiat.
He wonders what wonders Blackbird
would cook up with a mess
of polar bear and whale meat.
He wonders what stories, if any,
this Missouri snow would tell
a whale eater from the far north.
Questions abound! Banner puts
his ear to the snowy ground.
If it has any answers he can’t hear them.
The snow here is only snow.

Banner wants to believe
in metaphor but when he looks
out at the world today
he sees only the world,
its sky dim and gray like
nothing but itself without any self.

Miller Mantooth  

Miller Mantooth has been hoofing the bearded Ozark hills with Redbone, the self-proclaimed preeminent tracker of Polk County peckerwoods, but no sign of Banner’s earthly whereabouts has been discerned. He is presumed to be headed for colder regions northward in quest for dog and a better biscuit. He will find neither.

Copyright © 2013 Louisiana State University Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Miller Mantooth. "The Would-Be Whale Eater." Southern Review 49.4 (2013): 602-603. Project MUSE. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Mantooth, M.(2013). The Would-Be Whale Eater. Southern Review 49(4), 602-603. Louisiana State University Press. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Miller Mantooth. "The Would-Be Whale Eater." Southern Review 49, no. 4 (2013): 602-603. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed October 10, 2013).
T1 - The Would-Be Whale Eater
A1 - Miller Mantooth
JF - Southern Review
VL - 49
IS - 4
SP - 602
EP - 603
PY - 2013
PB - Louisiana State University Press
SN - 2168-5541
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/southern_review/v049/49.4.mantooth.html
N1 - Volume 49, Number 4, Autumn 2013
ER -


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