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This poem is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.

The Owner of the Sea
a retelling of the Inuit tales of Sedna, ‘The Woman Who Would Not Marry’
Richard Price
This sequence retells the life and death of Sedna, the female being who is at the centre of a number of tales in Inuit shamanist traditions. My poems are in debt to The Sea Woman: Sedna in Inuit Shamanism and Art in the Eastern Arctic (University of Alaska Press), by Frédéric Laugrand and Jarich Oosten, as well as to more general reading. Some of these poems have been published in the artist’s book by Ronald King, Sedna & The Fulmar and in Prototype. My thanks to Ron and to Jess Chandler.


Who remembers the names of the Owner of the Sea?

‘She is the Owner of the Sea,
the Woman Who Would Not Marry.
The One Who Did Not Want a Husband.
The Owner of the Sea.
She is the Woman Who Was Always Having Sex,
the Terrifying One.
The Woman Who Was Always Marrying, Always Divorcing.
She is the Owner of the Sea.

She is – Don’t name her.
Say simply ‘the one down there’.
She is the Owner of the Sea.”


Father and daughter

My first words were an order.
I tugged off a mitten with my teeth, let it drop.
I reached up, commanded: ‘Hold!
...


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