David McLansky

(5/24/1944 / New York City)

Old Eskimo Afloat


I am an old Eskimo
Set out on the icy flow;
A hunter who no longer sees,
Squatting numbly on his knees;

My bones are dry, of little meat,
For Father Bear, a minor treat;
I, who speared the Great White Bear,
Return his bounty with this poor share;

I couldn't hold the sewing needle;
I've gown too old and weak and feeble;
My pain denied me sleep at night,
I'd sit before the oil lamp light;

In the igloo, by the wall
I'd sit wherever I could crawl;
No teeth to chew the walrus meat,
Too cold to rub my children's feet;

I saw their looks, they looked away;
A chore, a burden on their day:
A cracked and useless narwhale hook,
Resented for the space I took;

I tried to joke and tell of hunts;
They answered with begrudging grunts;
The children soon ignored my presents;
I lived a ghost for all intents;

All I agreed I had to go;
They put me on the early flow;
A little fire set at my feet
To warm me as I fell asleep;

Cracks and groans all about,
A seal sniffed me with his snout;
Had I a club or strength of arm...
He swam away without alarm;

In the fog I wait for death,
The air too cold to take full breath;
I've lived full out my seasoned span;
I see too clear the worth of man.

Submitted: Saturday, April 05, 2014

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