I’ve been struggling to find ideas for my creative writing recently. So earlier today I put up a post on Facebook asking for some help in gathering some themes for new poetry of a spooky nature. One of my friends recommend I check out The Lie by Don Paterson on the Poetry Foundation Website, which I did.
After enjoying that, my hunger for more poetry took me along to the Myth And Folklore section of the website, where I found the poem Windigo by Louise Erdrich. It chilled my blood, and had me thinking of my own poem about the cannibal spirit of the north…which you can read below. For the record, I now have a week’s worth of ideas logged down, and am excited to get the poems created!
My Father, The Cannibal Spirit Of The North
My father is late returning home
from collecting 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 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 cabin shakes with the wind 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.
My grandfathers 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 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 piss.
The door rattles for hours before he learns
how to get in.