Sami in their tipis (‘Hilpes’?)
Finmark in the fifties
thick skin patched with thin skin
needle holes under flaps pantiled
almost a proggy, with the same skill
as waterproof as my ‘Ventile’
more windproof than the Grenfell

why is no skin scorched within?
the vent is canted with the wind
by adjusting its poles with the breath
of the outside, the fire on the inside
the whole/home a system like a tree
but one a nomad, northearth ride
and listening is the place to be

here he learned, his descendants remind
what had been gathered wandering
eastward a hemisphere, time out of mind
coming hunter and with the seasons
the waters, iced over, or in the birch
a tipi can be made of like a canoe
every stitch reasons every resin glue.

Flood Debris

Hawk owl, N. Siberia, 1981
hidden in a drift of floodrift logs
sitting higher on a spit of river gravel
than this newcomer had imagined
possible; and this beyond the fingers
of forest left behind us on this journey.
Eye-polishing ‘bleached mammoth relics’
partly ordered by what sort of forces
giving novelty that sense of antiquity
transported from eviscerated bogs

that birch-bark stump not some artefact
but animate; its wide head-swivel
eye became engaged by; bladder-wrack
at tide limit gleamed no less familiar
and black. In Canada I’d been thus spat
at by half-closed lamps like coals
of a snowy owl huge as squatted cat
out of the tundra wind yet at vantage
fat and watchful of me a whole age!

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