Surrounded by snow, they developed a poetry for their world. To understand.
The Eskaleutic languages are said to have many words for “Snow”. As many as 50 to the English 4. And in much the same way a fish develops intricate gills to decipher its experience, these people of the Arctic developed their own.
An Aleut man makes his way back home from the sea and on his climb, feels the snow escape his fingers. This snow will not stay. This snow is unstable and young. He can try to hold it, but it is pointless. This snow is different.
A Yupik woman looks out over the taiga and sees that it is good. It is new and untouched. Her travel will be safe and her journey will be short.
The Inuit enters his home and beats the remaining snow from his clothes. This snow was able to cling. It was stubborn and it followed him home. It would rather melt and die in his warmth then let go into the vastness of its own world.
Now, I wonder if we’ve missed something. Something fundamental. I wonder if we’re swimming without our gills.
It would appear we find ourselves in a world of Cold all our own. And it would seem that when we first discovered The Cold, we ran. We built homes of warmth and tools of forgetting and we have been running ever since.
I was a young boy when I first fell off my bike. I wasn’t paying attention and I hit a pothole that sent me flying over myself. I was scraped and cut and bloody and I remember it blinking all over me. “This is pain.”
I was a young man in college when I remember looking through that screen at your eyes. You knew we had gone too far, made a mockery of the whole thing. I knew you loved me and you were sorry. You knew the same. And when I hung up, I remember it blinking all over me. “This is Pain.”
And but two years later, when it came from the far and changed me completely, I screamed and begged. I was muffled under snow so heavy and fought for every breath. And no matter how many times, countless times, I climbed for escape, the snow rained down on my head. And no one could reach to help me out. I looked up at their faces, all trying, and I thought to myself, under the blinking, “This…this is Pain.”
Igadug- A violent snowstorm.
Ever since that day, I cannot ignore The Cold. To ignore it is only to walk outside one day and get trapped beneath it. So I respect The Cold. I thank The Cold for making me see. I thank The Cold when I hold my loved ones a little tighter for warmth. I celebrate in The Cold, because it means I’m still here. I dance in The Cold, to show others that it isn’t so scary. And when The Cold comes, I smile, because I know what The Cold implies.
There are some things that no one has a word for. There is a beauty hidden behind the wordless. There is an understanding and deep down, in the deepest love, there is a blinking.
Poem by Matt Leavitt. Matt holds all copyright; nothing can be copied or duplicated without his permission.
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