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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lines for Winter

(Bear Tracks, woodcut by Mary Okheena, born 1957,
Canadian Inuit artist)

Inuit is now the preferred name for the indigenous peoples of northern Canada and of Greenland. It replaces the older name of Eskimo, which is still favored in Alaska.


Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself —
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

~ Mark Strand, born 1934, American poet and translator

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