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  • Force Majeure, and: Mysteries of Light, and: Disappearer, and: Muġnatuŋilaŋa / I am not tired, and: On Either Side of Limbus, and: Time and Time Again, and: Looking Through
  • Joan Kane (bio)

Force Majeure

    in unusual fuseour storms arise suddenly,walrus and bear resolveto each other.

Masterful in one element,while in another    a boot fills with piss.

Always snow, the path no easier—now in shadow    with katabatic windsdowning boughs of spruce and birch.

Though together we are born and live,one must finish another.

Mysteries of Light

Loosen the ropes.Seven lances in her heart put forth blossoms.

Beneath a torrent, refuge—As a little child with a medallion of chased gold

Aboard a ship, with birdsAbout her shoulder and a magpie on her hand. [End Page 30]

An axe lodged in the roof,A wolf whose mouth will proclaim.

One breast on a plate. Stone in hand.Red egg, wool, sometimes a wound in her forehead.

Called to the ditches alongside the mine roads,A continuation of things we do wrong.


Disappearance, extinction, the inability to survive as a race—these are the anxieties of an Inuit modernity. They lie at the fuzzy border between cultural and biological extinction.


Issriliuġnailat naniq atausiq Taavrumuŋa ipkua Ugiuvaŋmiut taimana itpazuktut. / They did not get cold as long as just a single oil lamp was burning. For that reason, the King Islanders were able to survive.


in a city of seven too many corners

uncle struck and left to diein rain torrentialin the road in the dark

adrift without relations

sister twenty at suicidehaving left her son swaddledin the clothes of my own

a black snow fell [End Page 31]

aunt whose court-appointed custodianspent the money meant for heaton beer and snuff and spirits

unable to grasp the trailing dragline

grandfather with a cerebral aneurysmdeposited at jail instead of hospitalthe police mistaking him for drunk

we hear constant surf

cousin skids off the roadwhat's left of a six packlocked rolling in her trunk

for the sea is very deep

land's end nunam izualet us set the last stone in place

Muġnatuŋilaŋa / I am not tired

I was beneath linked starsOne among many exiles—

The returned light floodsAgain a world unmoved,

Its translucent sky riftsAt a ring of mountains.

I could cup the small stoneOf the heart percussing.

Moving in the muddy arcOf a thing afloat as pebbles [End Page 32]

Slope toward the shore's end,Turning toward them warm

And familiar. The ocean, eared,Roaring and familiar.

On Either Side of Limbus

At the rim of the world, the aching world,a fault of snow and shadow.She predicts sense yet I find none:nothing, in fact, but the edges of things,in wind and the movement of animals.

Through dreams inlaid with rigid marrowat last I grew to grasp her fear:it was to have been a survivorwhen there were no others.Between my dreams, the net of them,

light breaks above an oyster middenas one day yokes itself to another.She could not be farther—somewhere near the mingled voicesof boys as they gather rocks for slingshots.

Hers a force as vital as my own disgrace,the pulse of it plays back at me.There is no final story,No assertion, no deception.I may never know who I am.

I splint the stem broken in recurrenceFrom leaning so many times,And smother the roots in sand.The shoot shifts ever toward the light,It is strong, after all, and able. [End Page 33]

Time and Time Again

in the days before your birthyour heart beat out some worry

in our two rooms above two tiŋmiaġruatperpetually atop the rooftop opposite

those ravens unstilled a strange clusterof birches' black dendritic branches

in my narrow recollectionwe lost sight of land altogether

through failure to keep the shorewe labored across the open water

kept to method of nothingbut...


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pp. 30-35
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