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  • Days of Next Yesterday, and: If Gold Is Drilled in Bristol Bay, and: Imieauraq's Ceremony of the Dead, and: Stereoscope
  • dg okpik (bio)

Days of Next Yesterday

When She/I feel/s the weight    of plastered walls,brick doors closing heavy

                windows slammingShe/I like/s to crawl into an igloo            chute tunnel to the centerof snow                    strip down to her/my inner clothes

fur side in.        She/I peel away the marmot skin        smell a pot of Labrador        tea boiling.In her/my plank grave She/I lay under sodmy teeth gnaw        on dried herring,            eider eggs, sip tea.

With a whale oil lamp lit            She/I watch Aapaga/grandfathermelt snow for water.        Watch the ice shrink.                No polar bear in days.

Aanaga/grandmother sews the worn heels of aapiyaba/brother'skamiks. No blue snow        only white rain.

She/I watch them    lift the toils    of burdened life    a steelheadPlaguePlaguePlague            as She/I shovel        in front of my feet            throw peat moss            into a mammoth's mouthwith no roe        no narwhal            no reserves. [End Page 12]

If Gold Is Drilled in Bristol Bay

for Sarah Palin

Why is it, in Bristol Bay, a sea cormoranthovers, sings a two-fold song with a hinged cover

for a mouth, teeth set in sockets, with a hissing grindof spikelets biting the air? Dip one.

The lips of vanished flames in lava coalsglow vermillion as an egg cracks. Dip two.

She/I feel/s a chimera leaving the eider duck. Dip three.While still in the embryo, separating the body

from death she/I smell/s of arsenic, the Chugach Rangein unnatural bitterness. Why is it, man's/woman's nerve scarcely

stifled and sane, comes to prey? While they swoonminerals of crude oil and sea spiders for tricking a way for gold.

Will they crawl around her/me, sink their eye teeth in the sea,ravaging the ecosphere and the ore gold for fuel? Drill.

Imieauraq's Ceremony of the Dead

Imieauraq, the prowler shaman,            is encrustedwith thick    stone    ochre    powder

he paints        protectionhe sets                        his willow stick        with a snare [End Page 13]

his protruding abdomen            deforms his back                    now hunchedand bow-leggedhe walks                    his bones knockthe red dust settles.

(Imieauraq sees his older brother,story-keeper of the hunt, in his dreams)

He traps a siksrik/squirrelfor roasting a dinner        for the dead

over the fire                    on every flint headhe ties notches a piece of lashing

which drags and drapes        across the siksrik's/squirrel's neck.                        Imieauraq removesthe meat from bone                        intuitivelycarefully                skillfully

not to snag        a vein (if it bleeds he'll need to use yo-yos                    as protectionfor his bear clan, for his sister's death wish)

he marks a bear skull in white paint: earth=mother=adopted=blood=raven= midnight sun.

In his small plywood cabin                    on the north shore

he runs in place        a slow runnerthe cold settles in his bulb knees(he remembers: ice forming on the lagoon                        when his sister fell in the ice water dead).        He scrapes the squirrel's [End Page 14]

                        tiny body            closes the eyes            combseach frozen            blue-gray hair            until it is thawed.

He sponges            with a piece of moss            across the flesh                wiping

dead            he remembers: digging older strata                      descending probing eroding flesh beaches        He finds: in a burial site upheaving digging removing a way out

        the eldest inuk    farther inland    in a house pit

then on every ridge        yellowed bodies bones        bodies        bones                rising.

He heard this is what happens: when the water thaws        leavening            uprising

on Kotzebue Sound        he places        his sister's kamik legs and marmot arms                            head and feet                            upon a stilted        driftwood altar        her crown of fireweed                (he sees her ghost rise).

Imieauraq lays    wolverine furs over                    the appendages    flanks        slips on her feet                    new kamik boots    (his captain, his Umiliak,        new soles for the journey            bear clan leader)

                    around the cosmos    she will spin.On his sister's hands                he places                    a pair of caribou mittensfur side in        not to offend the spirits...


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