How the Blubber Boy Came to Be, by Shantell Powell

The young widow is clad in the patience of ancestors.
Her hands are capable.
Her needle thrusts strong.
Her stitches neat.
But in the other world she isn’t sewing.

In Adlivun she endures
Like a brave one on his knees—
Harpoon in hand by the breathing hole.
Waiting for that hole to be filled.
Waiting for that seal to be pierced.

We are sinew stitched into the skins of the world,
And sometimes we break.
Remember that broken seams may be mended,
And two pieces torn apart may be rejoined.

In her sojourn
The tide of spirits flow around her tattooed thighs
Sky people, land people, sea people,
Fur and feather and hair and scales
All are there,
Awaiting their namesakes,
Or maybe something else.

On earth, her lips move.
“Oh my love,
You are worth the wait.”

Her hands are slick with blubber
From Sedna’s slippery knuckles,
And she and her anointed lover
Are reborn sliding upon and
into one another.

Shantell Powell is a two-spirit author, artist, and swamp hag. She is the Yosef Wosk VMI Fellow for 2023, a graduate of the Writers’ Studio at Simon Fraser University, and a recipient of the Waterloo Arts Fund grant for her debut novel in progress. Her writing is in Augur, Feminist Studies Journal, Solarpunk Magazine, Yellow Medicine Journal, and more. When she’s not writing or making things, she wrangles chinchillas and gets filthy in the woods.

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