My father underlines the words
he doesn’t understand. Dear father,
penultimate means next to last. Husband, as a verb,
is not unusual. To husband is to conserve.
Ajar is fancier than open. Masticate is stronger than eat.
Like this: Within, we eat our caribou. Without,
the bears masticate theirs.
I am reading his copy of Yellowknife, a travelogue
published in the year of our centennial.
Yellowknife is where my older brothers both were born
in the middle of the eighties, when men at the Wildcat twisted
to the beat of the only vinyl the needle hadn’t scratched
into oblivion. As the dogs barked and the spiders
prospered — if spiders can live
in climates so cold. Dear father, oblivion means nothingness,
and I was never there. I wasn’t a breath in the wind
or a glint in your eye or a howl from afar
overheard because Daniel left the green bay window
ajar. You know the north and I
the words. The songs, the dogs, the
spiders, and I the words.