Otter’s Totem

They used to sow
Totemic emblems
Of victory and glories
In the snowy throats
Not long since owned
By the deceased,
The routed,
So they should speak
As fluently as sleek
Otters speak of fish
In their afterlife,
And account like beads
On abacuses,
Or a long lost rosary,
For whitewashes
And the blossom of losses.
Keepsakes and tattoos,
They knew the horseless
Fallen in battle
Would adjust
To their new solitudes.

They used to take an ear
From the thin bark of
Eavesdropping willows
In winter, a votive,
So the restless dead
Repeated messages by rote
On death’s bloated pillow.
For they recognised
Through songs survived,
And later then
Their own demise,
Each tea leaf,
Each grain of rice,
Is someone’s sweat
And someone’s life.

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