Northwords Now Issue 35

The FREE literary magazine of the North

The Song

by Paula Jennings

‘You can burn my drum but you can never,
ever burn the song that is inside me.’
(Sami saying)

His mother taught him to yoik
in the days when it was still hidden,
the songs banned, the drums burned.

She showed him how to sing the wind,
the creak of ice, crunch and slush of snow,
songs that growl and whine and roar,
that slide between pitches, that have
no symmetry, no beginning, no end.
When the singer stops the song remains,
uncontained as shifting silences of winter
in the naked tundra, raucous as birds
returning in the Arctic spring.

He says,
    You have to become what you yoik…
    when you yoik a wolf you are also a wolf,
    you have to meet the wolf that is inside you
    and also meet the wolves inside those who listen.