Excerpts > Winter 2005

Peggy Shumaker

Upset Woman

after a drawing by Florence Napaaq Malewotuk

Napaaq drew in ink
the sure lines of anguish,
a young woman nearly naked
weeping so hard her hands
can not hide her, her hands
can not hold this grief
passed down by the mothers,
the grandmothers, the ones so old
only stories could hold them.
This woman is young, young enough
to swallow all the sadness
passed down to her, to make it
her own. Her lover, a white man
with a thousand promises
in his misunderstanding advises her
and so she letters with great care
a caption in his language:

Some men hate his wife cause she love other men. That why he hate her
she crying now. She naked body. Pretty-soon love together again.

As if each tear has nothing
to do with the ocean,
with the drowned, nothing
to do with passing on
to a newborn
the names of the most recent
dead, who still walk around
to see how we are,
who listen when we cry.

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