An Epistle to Old Qaanaaq

Dear Thule, 

          I am writing this letter to you by daylight, near the window and a thawing tree. 

Did you know that sending you a letter is like praying? It’s a necessity, even if I don’t ever hear back. I hope you are well—I am an animal lately. 

          This morning, I woke up and was certain, for a moment, that if I unzipped my skin, I’d find an arctic fox living inside. 

          Longing for a transhumance existence. 

          When you were born, did a shaman place a tiny ivory whale in your mouth? Did you grow up and become a good hunter? 

          I think of you, wrapped in a thick fur, hand wrapped around spear, and read what you believed: that diseases are of a spiritual origin, that the Northern Lights show flashes of our family in the afterlife, that there are no wind gods and solar creators, that a frail tarneq, a fragile spirit, means the ancestors must walk alongside me, and that you are your own sort of God—

Angelica Esquivel

Angelica Esquivel is a Xicana artist and writer of stories, poems, and essays. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in publications such as Crab Orchard Review, Cream City Review, Gordon Square Review, and Chestnut Review.