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The Talisman


"Summer was longer,

            the sun warmer

when the barley-eaters

            built their barrows,"

said the seal-stalker,

            toothlessly smiling.

"Godhavn, their helmsmen

            named this harbor

when longboats rode

            over open water.

As for the raven,

            they called him hrefn.

I eat bone marrow,

            blood and whale meat,

so I know nothing

            but names for snow."


In a tattered tent

            the red-haired trekker

stared at the soapstone

            unwrapped from a rag.

Bear cubs basked

            on a blue whale's back

and salmon soared

            over a skua.

Hewn by the hand

            of an idle hunter,

narwhals twined

            with the Talelayo

whose severed fingers

            fluttered like fishes

or dreams drawn

            from the depths of a stone.


Timothy Murphy


Author's note:  Talelayo is a sea
goddess of Inuit legend.  Severed in a
fight, her fingers became fishes.


From Very Far North, The Waywiser
Press, London, England, 2002.
Reprinted by permission of the author.

Background by
Arcs Imposed

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