Friday, August 3, 2007

The villagers of Kap Dan

“This tribe” said our guide,
As we crunched through frosted snow
In our patent Italian shoes,
“Was only discovered in 1884,
When they plucked some shipwrecked Danish whalers
From the treacherous East Greenland currents.”
Unaware that they were not alone,
These primitive beings
Still inhabited an ice-age world
Of flint-topped spears
And sealskinned umiaks,
Invoking forgotten gods
As they battled the harshest conditions on earth
On a daily basis.
In return,
The Danes gave them religion,
Social security,
And deep-chasmed despair.

Wizened and deadened faces bore no animosity
As they shuffled around in a makeshift dance,
Complete with vague chants,
In a demonstration of Inuit culture.
A little girl in a pink anorak with synthetic fur
Thrust a carved walrus tusk into my hand
And held out a grubby hand in silence.

And if perchance we are visited
By higher beings from behind the iceberg clouds,
Will we not all just shrug our shoulders,
Twist the cap from the bottle
And wonder what’s the point?

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