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SHORT STORY: Yup’ik consciousness

April 10, 2011

As a writing exercise from Women with Words we were to draw two random words from the dictionary, make them into a title and write about it. One word I’ve never hear of and the other I only pretend I know the definition to. Here goes: Yup’ik consciousness.

I sew this parka for the third time,
needle warms against my hand
I sew the dried meat that hangs
from the roof with twine,
enough to last for three days.
I sew the rope through the sled
to keep it from blowing in the blizzard.

Before I sew the parka,
I comb the dirt from the fur
so my thread will not tangle.
Before I sew the meat on twine
I press the seal flesh between heavy stones
so it stretches flat and there’s no water left.
Before I sew the rope to the sled
I feed the dogs and bring them inside
rub their bellies and keep them calm.
They get frightened when the blizzard comes.

During storms I sew and hem
holes and patches for myself.
Embroider patterns of our tribe
I sew stories in my mind, then
recite them to the walls and
change the endings so they flow just right.
I sew up my thoughts of loneliness
thoughts of freezing to death without
anyone to notice, my body missing
until the winter months leave and I thaw out.

Sewing is survival.


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