Warm Water Fish Moving In
Out there, believing a spiritual ruinthe body passes & the dead found scavengedhock to fetlock, on these beaches.The body rests on round patchesof dried sea grasses.Out there, the night entrance loomsfrom earthly, inward, silent escapeslike sound shapesof the cosmos swirling.The wall of salt-white chance.I tap lightly like an alderfly.Upon cool, damp groundI throw stones half-halt. TSTHHsssHHH!Pebbles quickly fly windwardrestraining the nightglow livery.A freehold. I hang on the seaside banister.For here: my ears bleed like a cat’sin the evening; my nose hears instinct; my eyes smell salt!I crouch to the ocean’s ocean watching waves fold & spray.Fold & sprayHere: in bone-shackled shells;around my flowered bound hands;tightly held—still my free feet walkas 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 deadliving to the time & hour of meltingigloos & ice caves, rising butter clams clampedshut 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 shouldera grimace of a 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 scattersbluest eggs of magpies, cobalt.Enclosed by a caribou herdin protection like a nestweaved to the spruce.And here we polish lying in snowour bodies to purify or freeof fleas and louse.In here, I peel off a bony caston my head & the temporary lossof my soul person lives freely.Here I am not woman or man,the corpse is played out before life.I find finger fish holes.Here like cancer a jar of oil is 21 dollarsa liter & might be 10,400,320 years old.I intoned her, I purse my lipsI am pursued by my eye shape.Hereherehereherehere againmy coverlid & domed mindhides under closed eyesfeels the warm water of fishmoving moving in.
dg nanouk okpik was born in and spent much of her life in Anchorage, Alaska. She attended Salish Kootenai College, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. okpik has won the Truman Capote Literary Trust Award, the May Sarton Award, and an American Book Award for her first book, Corpse Whale. Her second book is Blood Snow (Wave Books, 2022).
“Fearless in her craft, okpik brings an experimental, yet poignant, hybrid aesthetic to her first book, making it truly one of a kind.”
—University of Arizona Press
"In a multiplicity of presence the poet watches her other move through time, enacting these stories as the months turn and turn again, renewed and ancient in their language.”
—Eleni Sikélianòs, author of Body Clock
"Unlike poets who adopt cultures into which they weren't born, or raised, okpik, who has fished the waters of which she writes so eloquently, has something rare these days: an authentic voice, one that nets ancient beliefs without discarding modern science or the daily news."