Nunaqtigiit (people related through common possession of territory)
The enemy misled that missed the island in the fog,
I believe in one or the other, but both exist now
to confuse me. Dark from dark.
Snow from snow. I believe in one—
Craggy boundary, knife blade at the throat’s slight swell.
From time to time the sound of voices
as through sun-singed grass,
or grasses that we used to insulate the walls of our winter houses—
walrus hides lashed together with rawhide cords.
So warm within the willows ingathered forced into leaf.
I am named for your sister Naviyuk: call me apoŋ.
Surely there are ghosts here, my children sprung
from these deeper furrows.
The sky of my mind against which self-
betrayal in its sudden burn
fails to describe the world.
We, who denied the landscape
and saw the light of it.
Leaning against the stone wall ragged
I began to accept my past and, as I accepted it,
I felt, and I didn’t understand:
I am bound to everyone.
Copyright © 2013 by Joan Kane. Used with permission of the author.
Joan Naviyuk Kane
Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of Milk Black Carbon (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017). She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.
Date Published: 2013-01-07
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/nunaqtigiit-people-related-through-common-possession-territory