Northwords Now Issue 35

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Spirits of the Lavvu

by Paula Jennings

Uksakka is beside the door
where people come and go.
She cares for your life
in the shelter of the lavvu
and your being in the world.
She shapes the foetus
in the mother’s womb
and is a midwife at the birth.

On the opposite side
is the ‘wrong door’. Food
is carried in through here
and the dead taken out.
The tundra’s harsh beauty
lays bare the life cycle.
Juksakka protects children
and guards this second door.

On the hearth of five stones
sits Sarakka. A kindling
of aromatic mushrooms
culled from birch trees
fills the room with scent.
Wood embers begin to glow.
The guardian of love and sex
holds the fire in her lap.