The Man Who Liked to Have His Back Scratched
He could have had anything he wanted.
A caribou with special powers had granted him a wish.
But all he craved were his wife’s long nails against his back.
Every night after the hunt, this is what he’d ask:
Wife, please scratch me hard.
This wife loved her husband and worried because his back
was getting so red.
But his itch was as deep as the middle of the earth.
When she stopped, he cried and could not fall asleep.
This wife loved her husband and worried because he
was starting to bleed.
But his satisfaction was as far away as the sun.
He begged her to get the scraper she used on hides and use it on him.
This wife loved her husband who was now only bones.
She kept stepping over the pile long after her neighbors buried him.
Denise Duhamel: The Woman With Two Vaginas
Poetry based on Eskimo mythology
1994 Salmon Run Poetry Prize
1995 American Library Association Award Nominee