A Poem by Ookpik



Suppose I ought to talk about hospital, what it was like and why to this day I harbor an arrogant sense of self entitlement. It's not a sense of privilege, or at least not in the context of today's rhetoric; it's a sense of survival, of knowing my limits after having been taken by them to their utmost. I know my breaking point, I've been stretching it over the years and that time in hospital is as much a fond reminder of such as it is a terrifying recollection of what it was to witness the breaking of my own body.

To this day I attach a duality to mirrors.

Whenever I see my reflection I remember what my face looked like.

I remember every capillary broken, deep dark red and a pervasive blue weaving a layer of scab across the chin and cheeks of a teenage boy. I remember what my eyes looked like - the first days they were so blurred by morphine that I resembled a dusty teddy bear lost in the recesses of some abandoned project basement. But after I stopped hitting that little button with the same desperate frequency, after the scabs dried, hardened and began to peel, my eyes got grave.

I had never seen them like that before.

But I recognized the look from history magazines.

I remember the pain from those first nights, the burning of an absent hand, like my own personal test of the Gom Jabbar. I remember wanting to twist but the fracture was too fresh - to twist my body was to twist an unknit seam and the sensation would jarr you back from the anesthesia. 

The nurses called that acute pain,

Like a cute little pain.

I remember looking at where my arm used to be when they finally peeled the bandage. There was a tube that had been sewn in, a hemovac. The tube was there to suck the fluids from the wound and there was a cylindrical pump that would fill beside my hip. 

I never looked into the pump but based on the shade of the bandages I knew what color it would be. 

The reason I hate mirrors is predicated on the moment they sat me up and changed the dressings in front of a reflection. 

I was so thin, my ribs showed beneath my shoulder blades and the staples along the residual limb held in a pocket of swollen green - like an evergreen, like some X files, alien blood. I cried when I saw what I looked like, when I really saw what had been done to me. The nurse who was new and on a fresh rotation asked me if I had seen it yet; I shook my head and felt off put by her compassionate look - as if somehow that look affirmed how pathetic I was, teenage skin, bones and an arm that had been ripped from its roots.   

Now when I look into a mirror I see the muscles I've layered since - the tissue I had to rebuild. I see the tattoos, Tyr's hand in Fenrir's mouth, the Ookpik, the rifle and the hatchet. I see that old look I used to have when I was a kid, I still see it there, but I also see it buried in the look of gravity I had formed when capillaries were peeling from my face. 

I see the boy I used to be, buried in all the things that have happened since. 

All the fresh lessons.

All the hours.

All the revelations.

When I look at mirrors now I see two people. I see who I was, I see the broken boy and I remember all the moments I had worked so hard to bury - the arctic lying dormant in a teenage frame. But atop that boy is every wound, every callous, every strip of skin that was ever taken, every stripe that was ever earned, every bottle I've ever emptied, every heart I've ever broken and every suture I've left untended. Atop that boy is a warrior that did not exist before the day I saw myself - before the day I saw what the world could do to you if proceeding under the pretense that weakness had its virtues. 

Every day when I wake up, when I pace a circle, see the side that's strong, that's now sinew and tendon as opposed to the side that carries the atrophy from that hospital, from the agony of being reduced to bones,

I find myself fighting to keep the warrior from calling the shots.

Because to wage war on the world is to deprive yourself of humanity, of what it is to be human 

And every mirror now is a glimpse into the tug of war between a human being, and a wolf salivating at the chains. 

That is why I carry myself the way I do, that is why I find sincerity in silence and that is why I am so indetectably bothered by those who presume to see more than that which they've actually been forced to trade for.

They think they know what mirrors mean

But I can see by their immaculate skin that they don't. 


© 2019 Ookpik

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Added on May 18, 2019
Last Updated on May 24, 2019



Vancouver Island, British Columbia , Canada

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A Poem by Ookpik