Northwords Now Issue 35

The FREE literary magazine of the North


by Paula Jennings

This is the story told by the shaman:

A man is sitting alone by the fire.
Reindeer skins are thick
on the birch-branch floor,
the smoke is rising through
the pointed roof of the lavvu.
A panting shape appears,
has slipped through the door,
a lone wolf seeking refuge
from a hunting pack,
a wolf with tundra in its eyes,
wild stink filling the lavvu,
and the man choosing to be calm,
sitting all night, absorbing wolf
through eyes, nose, skin;
Sarakka between them,
holding the flames.

Years later the man says to his son
    You have the eyes of that wolf, Ande.
And the son says,
    Because you gave me protection
    I chose you to be my father.

This is the story of the shaman,
who is also a professor of law,
who is also that son.