Among the tribes of winter sun, who live beneath the Polar Bear
They use five names for everyone, to save on memory and air.
They wears furs and skis all spring, and everything smells worn and ripe
They hum where others try to sing, and measure wealth in walrus tripe.
Where days are short, and ground pale, the snow is hard and wind severe
There is a character in tales. A teenage girl, as we count years.
Alone, among her friends and kin, she is a rare northern flare
She loves the whiteness of her skin, and sable blackness of her hair
She smirks, and always speaks her mind to show her tried and tired derision
And she avoids the daily grind, insisting this is her decision.
And so it goes -- she brushes her hair, she saves her paleness from biting cold
White winter storms bring the chilling air, while Polar Bear is getting old
Her elderly mother does her chores, and scolds her always with doleful looks
And she looks on, disdainful and bored, and chooses the best from what mother cooks.
But then the plot comes to a twist, because it is time to break the haughty
And Northern Santa writes up a list, and she, of course, has been very naughty.
A wandering shaman might set her straight and make her pay for looking fair
And speak a curse with enduring hate for everything light and free of care.
Or maybe her parents have had enough of grown girl who does not pull weight
And tell her to go and pack her stuff, and wander until she improves her ways.
Or comes a symbolic but real wind that scatters her roof and dims her spark
(Our northern mores are made of flint, and feed the lazy to hungry dark)
Her boat capsizes, her dogs have fled. As punishment for her shining eyes
She is, in the natural order, dead, and stars will shine on her when she dies.
Now she will learn how to weep and fear, she is alone against tempest now.
She willingly suffers, and cuts her hair, and leaves it lying on bloody snow.
She learns her trapping, and shelter-making, and how to get blubber, and how to skin
Her face is red and her hands are shaking, and always frostbitten, and always thin.
The point! Having nothing but fair skin is just no good under northern Sun.
She learns to look down, and to keep things in, and she starts smelling like everyone.
Here, plot comes to a happy end, both laws and lore are re-affirmed,
Her other sisters, again, her friends, her cozy place in the corner, earned.
Her father smiles, and she hugs her mom, her family gathers to celebrate
And northern people, they sing, they hum. Their eyes are calm, their backs are straight.
A relic restored, she is placed inside. She pricks her fingers with whalebone awl.
The tale is finished, and all is right, but I am wondering -- is that all?
Alone, I am sad amongst their feast of recognition of ties that bind
Although I have learned to hide, at least, my burden of vision among the blind
I mourn what is lost for us all, I fear, the divine gift of poetic sloth
Replaced by herding the fucking deer and other animals of the North.
We all were polished to fit the mold. Together, filtered through finest sieve.
Forget about me, sigh, same old. But in you, my dear, I still believe.
Look what they have done to our eyes and wrists. Look what they have done to our bands and braids.
I see a bridge burning in the East, and rotting leftovers of walrus trade.
Life ends, exchanged into petty things. The night is ending, new day will come.
Men of the north, they sway, they sing. They sway, they hum, hum, hum.