by Michele Delange

I wake up
I look myself in the eye
I see myself, very old
I do not see the old man there
I find myself slipping from the floating bed into the icy water
The old man says I have only to look him in the eye and everything is possible
Still, I want up. I feel I have somewhere to be
There are layers and layers of soft blankets and pillows
I want to get up but I cannot move
I insist I am not tired anymore
There is no bench now—instead a bed and I am on it
He is still able to speak with me
His entire being is submerged in the water below me
His long gray locks are entangled at my ankles
I look up but the old man is no longer next to me
Suddenly it is not water but icy ground
A moment later the ground begins to move
I continue to hold my gaze downward
Never looking up at him, I feel his eyes on me as he tells me
he has been waiting for me and it is right that I came
I decide to take a seat next to him after all
Suddenly I feel very tired
I am not afraid of the old man, merely resistant
I know where I am going, but somehow I keep ending up within sight of his bench
I continue walking
I try to ignore him
I am wearing a dress and no coat or shoes
It is winter and we appear to be in the middle of nowhere
An old man on a bench beckons to me to approach

Michele Delange is a teacher and poet living in Asheville, North Carolina. Her work has been published in Ice-Floe: International Poetry of the Far North, Explorations, The Anchorage Daily News and WNC Woman.

About Kokagna—This poem was inspired by an Eskimo shaman’s visit within a vivid dream. I wrote the lines upon returning to waking life.