(too-loo-gak): Inuktitut (the language of Inuit) word meaning raven

Scott Duke

Yellowknife, NT

THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A RAVEN
(with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

I.
Over twenty snowy roof tops
the only moving thing
was the eye of the raven.

II.
My two hands–
like a telephone pole
on which there sit two ravens.

III.
The raven whirled in the winter wind,
a small part of the season.

IV.
A man and his dog
are one.
A man and his dog and a raven
are three.

V.
I am not sure which to prefer:
the splat of its turd
or the incessant cackling;
the raven laughing
or just after.

VI.
Kibble filled the steel bowl,
food for the dog in the pen.
The shadow of the raven
crossed it, back and forth,
the mood
traced in a frenzy of barking.

VII.
O fat hunters from America,
why do you imagine stuffed birds?
Can you not see how the raven
walks along the roof tops
mocking you?

VIII.
I hear northern dialects
and loud, penetrating rhythms;
but I know, too,
that the raven is involved in what I hear.

IX.
When the raven flew behind the cloud
I held my breath and waited.

X.
At the sight of ravens
sitting on a telephone wire
even the charming tourists
cried out sharply.

XI.
He flew over the river
in a Twin Otter.
Once, he had to look twice
because he mistook
the shadow of his propellors
for ravens.

XII.
The snow is coming.
The raven must be flying.

XIII.
Afternoon turned into evening;
it was snowing
and it would keep snowing.
The raven sat
on the wood pile.