Doris Lynch
Inupiat Eats

Kivalina, Alaska

Whale oil donuts—
white man's flour
sealed with aroma
of wild sea.

Frozen quaq
raw meat sliced off
caribou rump, buried
all winter in permafrost.

My journey from bean
sprout-loving vegetarian
to savorer of caribou shanks,
moose jerky.

Precious willow leaves, serak,
tempered in seal oil. Summer
green pickled to a purple black,
Vitamin C burst on the palate.

Eskimo ice cream, highlight
of every feast, gallons of whipped
Crisco, berry-bled, sugar-dolloped.
One taste more than enough.

Gunniuk—sea's trash fish, we jig
for all winter long. Sitting on lawn chairs
in the cold dark, waiting for life to quicken
beneath the frozen lagoon.

Ruthlessly, slam fish against the ice.
In minus forty-degree air, they freeze
instantly. Simmer for hours,
then eat heads and all.

For our final feast in May
our neighbors bring out
muktuk, outer fat of whale—
pinnacle of Inupiat cuisine.

My favorite—pannituk
wrinkled ebony in a jar.
To chew this leathery seal
is to taste the sea's navel.