I wrote this poem for my up coming show In The Northern Darkness, and I performed it for the first time last night in Sweden. I hope you enjoy it.
My Father, The Cannibal Spirit Of The North
My father is late returning home
from collecting the dead treasure from his traps.
The sun is soon to set, and the windows
have gathered fresh frost.
My Grandfather scrapes the panes clear
with the side of his axe.
He stands at the window
as the horizon swallows the sun
and night falls thick and heavy and fast.
My Mother is dense with child,
but her soft features are missing today.
She whispers that she wishes
we lived closer to the big town.
She whispers that she is afraid
of the wolves and of what they have done.
She is afraid father has been taken,
and is now nothing but an exposed spine,
ragged with scraps of blue tinged flesh.
Grandfather takes her hand in his own.
I impatiently wait for him to pat it, tell her
all will be well, repeat himself until she
feels safe again and can smile.
Instead, he says there are worse things out
there in the forest than the wolves, and you know this.
My father was excited this morning, when he set out
to collect his silver fox furs.
My Grandfather chews tobacco, works his tough thumbs
across the sharp edge of his axe.
I told him to leave the furs, he says.
I heard the moaning song of the Wendigo,
I told him the forest today was not safe.
We eat maize flour and maple syrup,
which mother tapped from the trees in summer.
But none of us take more than a few bites.
Mother holds her round stomach like it has all the answers.
The wind shakes the cabin for hours
until my father makes a violent entrance.
His face is missing the pattern of his smile.
His eyes no longer hold his identity,
and his arms they are empty of furs.
He is filthy. He must have moved
across the same trail a thousand time.
He looks to my mother, but does not approach her.
Grandfather says he wishes
we could bury him now. Put him deep
under the earth, where only the worms
and beetles can find him.
The next morning, my father runs
naked and screaming into the forest.
He will come back Wendigo,
or insane, or never, Grandfather tells me.
We should hope it is never.
But father comes back.
My father is father, but he is also Wendigo.
He can hear the drumming of my heart
through the walls, and I know this makes him excited
for I can see his wet heart pulsing.
Grandfather holds my arms behind my back,
and through the window we watch father stalk the house.
He is emaciated. I can see each rib. A set of antlers
has emerged from his skull, breaking through the bone like roots.
His complexion is the ash of a dead fire.
His eyes are pushed back far, but they beat red.
They roll about in blood.
All I can smell is decay and my mother’s piss.
The door rattles for hours before he learns
how to get in.