She Dwells in Violet

dg nanouk okpik

Brother, listen, she places a hat with whale bone toggles,

Walrus effigies and two small fish carvings on her head.

To one side of the brow line made of spruce wood, or

Was it willow? She had forgotten. Is a wooden mask.

But she did so with a long gut roar so deep

she brings up the bellow bowels of being human.

She braids her hair. She clips animal carvings on her hat

that day of fresh seaweed the smell of salt and clay.

Deep purple rain drizzles and sashays to her wayside,

I help her see an elusive red fox in the sand fields of lupine,

A candle sways shadows of shadows as dim night light,

she collects in the crab pots large Dungeness. She sets fire.

Brother, she/I bring souvenirs for the spirits.

Grab what they need leave the rest behind.

At home, up the smoke hole went thoughts and prayers

nourished by gleaming globed candlelight, she prays.

In her room on the shelves sit her handmade dolls.

One doll’s thin neck flimsy lops to the side.

Gather to the center of the floor, her dolls watching us.

She always loved the dolls the most and never lied to them.

The dolls looking at us playing cards. Rummy.

The dolls thirsty, beg for some water. She gives it to them.

As an offering, she kneels in mindfulness of the other.

Her mind can control her world if needed. It’s needed.

She makes these tight words, and the day dwindles into red.

She sits beside and behind the curtain only to reveal herself.

Brother, scratch and pick, flinch and nail, jump and run,

understand sand flea skin comes with scab and itch.

Brother, the blues at the same time with the steel guitar,

Twangs through the halls and rooms, nightmares and dreams.

The dolls now asleep on the shelf above her bed snoring.

Serene as a blue heron stalking the bog lakes, on one leg.

The midnight sun in a polar eclipse at the dawning of day,

she finds a down blanket, wraps it around her shoulders,

she makes shelter from the horizon sky. She’s mindful of the

domesticated reindeer they want to run with caribou,

their cousins across the taiga tussocks and grass mounds

which pepper the tundra, heading to the sea at sundown.

Darkness spewing in feels fierce and relentless as a raven

caws in the cold, she rests but still thinking of safety, restless.

She awakens, her eyes measure a pup in a dream state

A marmot pup scurries across the land like an arctic rat.

She fried service berry doughnuts over the firs in a cast-iron pan.

She eats and craves red meat wild caught from the open range.

The old sickness of blue silhouettes hanging on her,

she dwells in violets as a lightning bug cedars with the fig.

dg nanouk okpik is Inupiaq, Inuit from the north slope in Alaska. Okpik resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Originally published:
December 11, 2023


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