Alaska: Running Through My Fingers

Deborah - Lakewood, Ohio
Entered on August 3, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: nature, place

Back at my desk I resist work, afraid I suppose, to lose the smell of unspoiled air, the moist cleansing of the breath, the sharp cold sting of the water running through my fingers—

an endless gift of glacial life.

I try to let go, practice non-attachment. Yet I want to forever remember the high cry of the eagle as it followed our kayaks out to sea,

how it dove into the herring field, lifted its dinner and departed. Eagle circled again as we sat on the black sea, paddles up, as humpack whales—blue black bodies splitting water—

blew towers of mist before submerging into the depths, sending easy bumps of hello

across the water to rock our kayaks.

How can I let go of the place, of its being?

To wake to the cry of the loon, to follow the sound to the water’s edge and breathe and praise Earth, as sun lights on blue icebergs,

dances across snow on high mountains,

settles on the sea, green with kelp

and still aand silent.

There was a luxury there-

—unavailable where there are products to produce and one feels the pull of worldly achievement. Out there, ice and cold and the life of the sea,nothing strove very hard at all

yet every day stones on the beach beckoned,

pines waved their green branches, and

harbor seals lifted their soft brown faces in greeting. When the tide curled out, Sea Stars offered their colorful five-fingered bodies for admiration and the Gumboot Criton uncurled,

stretched its hard body across the rock,

looking like rock itself.

There, I could look closely at the

False Sticky Asphodel and peal away the soft sphagnum as I sunk in the muskeg. I don’t want to lose the willingness to stand for five minutes watching the wind pull the cotton plant

into white feathers, or to forget that small things like Devil’s Lipstick —tiny as a blade of grass—can shout its red breath with all its might from the trunk of an old gnarled tree.

Alaska split me open, making more room inside for the world’s loveliness

and its people’s laughter and the shocking thunder of the icebergs calving and turning in the morning light.

Dare I lose the sound of sea lion’s cough and

the magnificence of whale’s tail rising in the air

like a ballad or a poem?

What if I cannot stop working enough to allow the space given by a gracious land to expand?

What if I close, clicking shut? What if the melancholy song of the loon in the early light or the synchronized beauty of the Western Sandpipers’ flight lose out to unimportant things and I am left devoid of room for the world to explode and make itself known,

here or elsewhere?

What if the space opened inside me to love the world more crumples as easily as paper,

and I forget that I have been cleaved and opened for a reason?

If I close again, become uncleaved, what then can the photos in the album do for me?