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Going After Walrus
by Phillip Kennedy

Adrift upon the Chukchi sea, under
a winter moon, my little ice floe made
of words. After the walrus, I stayed out
too long on sea ice, that moves with the tide,
and all the alphabet of ice sucked down
the beach, cracking like seal bombs going off,
a lead of open water yawns between,
a way back to land cannot be described
now sailing in the polar sea, but still
I'm nowhere near Siberia I write,
hopefully. Nothing between me and cold
sea under me but ice ice ice, I write
quickly, I am writing safely and thickly,
I am adding this line to repair
the seaward edge of my intrepid raft,
where ice seems flat and weak. I make
my words to sound and smell like ice so that
the polar bear swims by never suspecting
I'm so tasty in my delicious
oily sealskins, hot blood and blubber wrap.
I peer over the edge of my ice floe,
I see the bottom of the sea, glittering
in the moonlight, furrowed by the walrus
snuffling up the juicy, crunchy clams
with her vibrissae…But the edges of
the ice are too dangerous for me
to linger there – the bear, of course–
and the instability of adjectives
is too tippy for me; I pile up
my words in the middle and sit on top
of the jumble; when I'm thirsty I will
eat snow. In six hours, the tide will turn
the ice language will bunch and stumble on
the shore; then I will write the path that lies
between me and my village home, leaving
my ice-words behind with the rest of Winter.
In the Spring's low sun rotisserie,
my words will be too warm to make good ice
we'll make them into skin boats, and float,
and hunt the walrus in the open sea.


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