Pepper Trail, “Small Game” and “The Village of Newtok”

Small Game

Follow, as we eat our way
Down through the world
Moose to deer to hare
Whale to halibut to herring
A precise detonation
Floor after floor falling
Straight down, crushing
The one beneath
The one beneath

Our children will cast
Their empty nets
Spread jellyfish
On their toast
Savor salted crickets
With their beer

The Village of Newtok

The Bering Sea is taking the little village of Newtok,
pushing up the river, pulling down the lowly bluffs,
giving water for land, so the houses tip and sink,
the people leapfrog backward toward the tundra,
knowing they cannot root in that soggy ground,
knowing they are at the beginning of the end of the world.

We like to have names for places and we like
to tell stories, but in telling the story of Newtok
we leave in silence everywhere without a little village –
the drowning delta, the melting frozen ground,
the flooded nests of geese and gulls,
the salt scorching the crowberry and willow,
and the sodden winters and the ice-bare shore,
no resting place for seals, no solid hunting ground.

Enough! (I can hear you say)
A story needs a human face,
a victim, a villain, a hero.

This spreading water,
a perfect mirror.




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