Warm Water Fish Moving In


Out there, believing a spiritual ruin
the body passes & the dead found scavenged
hock to fetlock, on these beaches.
The body rests on round patches
of dried sea grasses.
Out there, the night entrance looms
from earthly, inward, silent escapes
like sound shapes
of the cosmos swirling.
The wall of salt-white chance.
I tap lightly like an alderfly.

Upon cool, damp ground
I throw stones half-halt. TSTHHsssHHH!
Pebbles quickly fly windward
restraining the nightglow livery.
A freehold. I hang on the seaside banister.
For here: my ears bleed like a cat’s
in the evening; my nose hears instinct, my eyes smell salt!
I crouch to the ocean’s ocean watching waves fold & spray.
Fold & spray

Here: in bone-shackled shells;
around my flowered bound hands;
tightly held—still my free feet walk
as a beetle across a sidewalk.
I find: the dead spot of the fawn lily;
three human heads; dusty; tampered; stilted;
like dried up blossoms. But, black on blue.

Out there: dust particles; a somber,
solar moon waning; & beetle browed.
Large dome ice cores wake the dead
living to the time & hour of melting
igloos & ice caves, rising butter clams clamped
shut rotten & rancid. Out there, I find albino black grouse huddled in covens.
Here bull thistle in my intestines,
toxic shock & fodder in my seal poke side bag.

Slung over my shoulder,
a grimace of mask peeking at me.
And here, harbor seal walks upright,
porpoise circle the screech wail hides, at the back of my mouth, in here.
Unblinking pupils of owls live. There moon trips grow dark—
here the annual growth of a fish scale is 33 inches.
Fine debris of rocks scatters
bluest eggs of magpies, cobalt.
Enclosed by caribou herd
in protection like a nest
weaved to the spruce.

And here we polish lying in snow
our bodies to purify or free
of fleas and louse.
In here, I peel off a bony cast
on my head & the temporary loss
of my soul person lives freely.
Here I am not woman or man,
the corpse in played out before life.
I find finger fish holes.
Here like cancer a jar of oil is 21 dollars
a later & might be 10,400,320 years old.
I intoned her, I purse my lips
I am pursued by my eye shape.
Hereherehereherehere again
my coverlid & domed mind
hides under closed eyes
feels the warm water of fish
moving moving in.

dg nanouk okpik was born and spent much of her life in Anchorage, Alaska. She graduated from Salish Kootenai College with an AFA in Liberal Arts and Liberal Studies, and later attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, graduating with an AFA and a BFA in Creative Writing before receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast College. okpik has won the Truman Capote Literary Award, the May Sarton Award, and an American Book Award for her first book, Corpse Whale (University of Arizona Press, 2012).