WAITING FOR THE WHALES
with the Yupik
On icy shores the Yupik women grab their down-wrapped kids--
Muscled men push-slide long boats from old white plastic skids.
Squinting grey horizons -- snow-fog blurs keenest sight--
Wondering which hunter fickle gods will take tonight.
Seal skin gear repels the wet while ice finds nervous hands,
Hunters --cheerful-- brave the cold that rules in Arctic lands.
Suddenly a burst of water spits above their heads--
Spears flash—too late—whale disappears--but not a soul is dead.
Yupik people are one of the Native American tribes
of Eskimos in Northern Alaska whose traditional life included whale, polar bear and seal hunting.
The U.S. government allows them to hunt one whale per season to fulfill their religious
and cultural tradition. This hunt was near Barrow, Alaska spring 2012.
Victoria Anderson-Throop ©
Jan 11 2013