NONFICTION June 3, 2011



When we’re all in the gym dancing, it’s like a fur pouch—like I’m held in the belly of something. The men hold their damp drums over their laps, taut hoops of skin they beat with the strip of baleen. The steady, rhythmic beat is a pulse beneath the guttural, throttling sound of their singing. The women are bending their knees, head upright, arms outstretched, surfing this pulse. Men pound their feet into the floor, thrusting their arms out or down, fighting back, pushing against. Someone calls like  walrus, someone else invokes a harpoon.

And its as if the golden gym floor were the ice. As if the banners hanging from the ceiling to celebrate victorious basketball seasons were hides to celebrate victorious hunts. As if we didn’t arrive to this village by plane but on foot, across the sea that used to be land. As if ten thousand years ago was yesterday. As if drugs and drink never. As if time never warped or snagged or hung slack.

I don’t have the movements right. Someone comes along beside me, shows me how to sway.