David Daniel Moses

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What roles do the Inukshuk, wind, dreams, and nightmares play in Daniel David Moses' poem "Inukshuk"?

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Daniel David Moses’s poem “Inukshuk” presents a picture of desolation and loss, and it incorporates the images of the Inukshuk, the wind, and dreams. Let’s look at how that works.

The Inukshuk is a landmark built by the Indigenous peoples of the north. It may have been used to mark a route or camp or fishing or hunting place. Now, though, it has become a symbol of loneliness and isolation. It stands by itself out in the wind and cold. There is no one around to use it anymore. The people have moved on. It once watched the migrations. Now it suffers loss, at least metaphorically.

The wind is often the only thing that moves in this cold northern place. It blows around the Inukshuk, worrying it with its harshness—that is, eroding its stones. The wind carries a lost song on it, a memory from years before. This is probably a sigh, but it is also, perhaps, a dream.

Dreams “sing on the wing,” blowing in the wind. All that is left now is a dream or perhaps a nightmare. The whale is said to dream, too, but its dream is a nightmare, not about hunters who hunt it, but about hunters who hunt each other. All that is left now in this place is the dream on the wind. It is desolate.

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