The agéd Eskimo, once “sangilak,”
the strongest of them all, prepares to die.
Today he will not shield a slanted eye,
nor starving in the evening stagger back.
Having fought a bear and years of cold,
fresh salmon never leave his fingertips,
and caribou blood never parts his lips.
And yet, he’s lost his balance and his hold.
He’s “pilitak,” of help, but little use.
So he lies on a bed of tundra ice,
awaiting “kadzait,” wandering wolves, his eyes
blind in the twilight like those of a moose.
Slow, pleasant, death will come at six or seven
in the wake of a fierce blizzard storm,
(hypothermia and crystal form),
and it will be all he will know of heaven.
15 January 2013