Originally published in Willow Springs 78

From the author

Notes on “In Babble”

I wrote “In Babble” shortly after an upsetting event that happened while traveling with a close friend abroad. It was one of those stories that starts out trying not to be about something, twists into it anyway, and finishes with some uncertainty about the shape of what has been unravelled. Every so often I will write something that feels like a sort of punctuation mark, and for me, “In Babble” is one of those stories. The length of the piece was a bit of a challenge for me (my first draft was over 12,000 words) but I managed to scale it back once I had put a little distance between drafts. I’m not quite sure what else to say about the story, beyond the fact that it is an important story to me personally, I hope readers enjoy it, and I am both honored and pleased to have it appear in Willow Springs.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I just returned to Barrow, Alaska where I have lived the past four years, and now off and on this fifth one. While traveling recently I visited my friend in Ukraine, and I became addicted to cиpки (sirki,) which are kind of like the inside of cheesecake wrapped in chocolate. I was in Russia when I first tried them, but had forgotten how amazing they can be. I miss them every day.

Now that I am back in Barrow, I have been eating more native food again. Barrow is an Inupiaq whaling village in the Arctic, and June is the time in which crews celebrate Nalukataq by holding feasts and blanket tosses for the community. I know whaling is a sensitive topic for some, but to the communities up here the practice is essential to their culture, and as a non-native person I tend to both agree with and defer to self-determinate definitions of core cultural practices. I have often been asked to describe what whale tastes like and failed. It does not taste like fish, or anything else even remotely—just whale. The different parts are prepared in different ways, and the smell of whale is also kind of a part of the taste, so perhaps that is what I will try to describe. You can smell whale everywhere this time of year. It has a strong oily scent, so strong it takes over all other smells—both earthy, oily, and sweet all at the same time—as well as a little salty. It is powerful, but there is a certain appeal to the very strength and earthiness of it.



About Mirri Glasson-Darling

meMirri Glasson-Darling lives and writes in the Arctic village of Barrow, Alaska: the northernmost community in the United States. In August she will be moving to Blacksburg, VA to join Virginia Tech’s Creative Writing MFA program in Fiction. In addition to her publication in Willow Springs, she has received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train Press, and other stories of hers have appeared in the Crab Orchard Review, South Dakota Review, The Dr. TJ Eckleburg Review, and Bosque Literary Magazine. You can follow her on twitter at https://twitter.com/mirrigd. She is currently working on a novel.