These tribes of men were never seen,
except for their footprints and shadows,
except for their snow huts and weapons.
Seeing that there were no invisible women,
these imperceptible men courted humans.
Invisible men were said to be among the most handsome,
but women could not be sure who they married
until the unseen spouses died
and then their faces became apparent.
One human woman was so curious,
she often stared into her invisible husband's shadow
trying to guess the shape of his chin.
When she held his body against hers at night,
she memorized his outline. She tried to fill
everything else in the next day when he was out hunting.
She imagined the shapes of his hot breath in cold air
were keys to the details of his chest.
She noticed the nuances of skin color among the villagers
and tried to approximate his. When they kissed,
she paid tribute to his invisible nose's width.
One day when she could stand it no longer
she stabbed a knife into the space
where her husband was sleeping.
His feet appeared first, then his legs,
his torso, his arms, and finally his face
which was more angelic than any wife
could have imagined. Outside the hut
bows were seen moving through the air
as the other invisible men craved revenge.
Because of their code of honor, invisible men
could not aim arrows at those who could not see them.
So instead they wailed along with the wife,
voices even more invisible than usual,
sobbing their disembodied grief.
"The Invisible Men" from "The Woman With Two Vaginas" by Denise Duhamel
Copyright © 1995 Denise Duhamel, all rights reserved.
This write-up is the result of an odd synchronicity. To explain:
I had a little time on my hands this morning and decided to surf a few random nodes. The first time I looked at my 'random nodes' nodelet, this somewhat bizarre title jumped out at me. Strange though it is, it also seemed oddly familiar, although I couldn’t understand why. I thought perhaps a quick look at the accompanying write-ups would solve the mystery, but when I got here the two existing write-ups seemed (to me at least) as if they had been written for a nodeshell.
And then it came back to me: just a couple of days ago I had re-read some poems based on Inuit (Eskimo) mythology in a work that I had read some time ago and all but forgotten about. And although the myth suggested by the title above was not one of the ones that I re-read, the fact that I read a few of the others seems to have been enough to bring all of them back within memory’s reach.
The fact that the node title fits the legend (and the poem based on it) so closely makes it difficult for me to believe that it was intended for anything else. Perhaps there were copyright problems, and the original text had to be removed? It occurred to me that perhaps I ought to paraphrase the legend in order to avoid that possibility altogether, but some part of me was extremely reluctant to interfere with what feels like the natural flow of these events.
The poem itself is from 'The Woman With Two Vaginas' by Denise Duhamel, and is Copyright © 1995 Denise Duhamel, all rights reserved, as noted above. It would seem somewhat ironic if the original write-up was removed for copyright reasons, since Duhamel's poems are themselves reworkings of existing material, a fact which might explain the following quote which she includes in the book:
"A story is not true unless the storyteller puts something of his own in it."
-Anonymous storyteller from Nain, Labrador
If that is so, then this addendum is my own addition to the story, and it is true.