Road Signs

 

 I

Warning: Glaciers Calving

 

An gigantic structure                     

of terrifying beauty,              a growing darkness

drops pieces of itself

into the ocean,                                      an abyss

a process called calving,

                                                                  as what we know shrinks,

 

One can see them break off,                               a meeting of heaven and hell,

the snow, 

the white splash

of water before the giant

ice hit the sea.

 

The odor of ice:                                                            a cold shoulder place

solitude and not.

A surreal turquoise

refracted as if someone left                                                    through consciousness.

pieces of Styrofoam,

of antifreeze strewn

around on a white blanket.

 

Blue diamonds are pushed

at tourists.  “Here, take a piece of a glacier                               where life though inevitable, is                                          

                                                                                                       scarce      

home with you.  Wear it as a rock          

on your hand.”

 

Glaciers communicate with us by falling water,                     aqueous, gaseous, solid,

so we push

our sunglasses tight to our face.

 

A powerful force of nature

continues fracturing,                                                                               

                                                                   “must ride on its own melting”        reminding us                                                                                              of shadow,

of the immense reality

of our own mortality.                                                                        

 

We’re on the bow

of the boat.                                     Can a glacier be a blank slate?

I wear blue thermals,

never having guessed

the irony,

clear atoms of oxygen

molecules of water

and silk fibers dyed blue.

There is something deeply

spiritual and disturbing,                           a presence to illuminate,

about this dazzling

unfamiliar beauty,

where truth and death,

peace and ice,                                dive in and discover the underworld of the glacier,

collide.

 

The air is blue

and the sky is blue,

and the glacier is blue                               a sudden suggestion,

and the water is blue                                                 the rabbit hole of imagination,

and the water is death,

firmament, affirmation

and death,                                                    “The hook that draws us into depth.”

 

Niagara Falls has frozen solid and is falling apart,

                                                                   merging ice and ocean.

Alaska is a place where

stupefying gorgeousness,

and a hammering wrecking ball

amazes and petrifies its guests.

 

I came to view, for the first time,

 the cold and the unfathomable,                            phosphorescent fishes,

the reminder that dead winter

doesn’t live,

yet                                                                            in rediscovery

 

it does.                                                                     

 II

I Brake for Humpbacks

 

In every gift store

at Juno, Alaska

you can see the tail

of a whale.

 

They make a big splash

encrusted in blue jewels

and every imaginable

re-creation or aberration

of metal.  What

inspires such poor artistry?

 

It is the tale of the humpbacks.

 

The guide told us to talk to them.

So I started quietly singing,

First just rolling ocean,

then there they were,

the pod of them,

singing back,

the second best ever sighting,

or so he and the boat driver tell us.

 

 

We were lucky to see five of them

slamming through the ocean’s

surface at sports speed,

aiming our cameras on shutter

as they rose to the surface to slap

their tails, dive,  roll over, nudge each

other, teach their babies, sing again.

 

Every flash of black barnacled

body was another thrill.

 

We breathed, shouted, gasped

trying to capture another shot,

never knowing what

or where they would do next.

 

Then they breathed

and no one said a word.

What a stench,

putrid, unfamiliar, foul

but completely

utterly worth it.

 

Jonah couldn’t

have lived

in the belly

of a whale

for a deep blue moment.

He would have

died immediately

from halitosis.

 

Am I in danger, sir?

Only of falling in love.

 III

Bear Crossing

 

A bear steps out of the trees.

What is it wearing?

What is its first gesture upon

emerging from these woods?

 

It was a Coastal Brown Bear,

so it is brown, related to polar,

looking like grizzly with a

large hump in its back.

 

Bear was busy eating grass

on a rainy day in Sitka, Alaska

as we were looking for birds.

 

Just the four family of us

and a guide, as no one else

wanted to bird watch

 in the rain.

But they didn’t know

we’d be bear watching instead.

 

The bear was too busy

eating grass to know

it was dangerous

and we were watching it

with binoculars

half a football field away.

 

Bear’s poop was green

so it’s safe to assume

this one had been a vegetarian

for awhile.

 

Naturalists care about

that sort of scat.

 

However, this particular

species will eat anything,

fish, shellfish, carrion,

a freshly killed deer.

 

We saw four on the shore the day before,

 

cruising through glacier bay

but this was a particularly

intimate encounter

with a first species.

 

The bear’s happiness

was leaf green grass.

Our happiness

was the sight of bear’s hind end.

IV

 

U Turns Encouraged

 

When Colorado is hell,

one forgets how big

a flower can actually grow

in a temperate rainforest.

 

So Bucharts Gardens

in the rain in Victoria,

Canada was a welcome sight

even though we had seen it

before and it was a night call.

 

The azaleas were giant and blue

and the roses were every color

you could ever imagine.

 

We were glutted with flowers,

clobbered over the head

with columbines and larkspur,

peonies, goldenrod,  foxglove.

I can be happy in a resting place

where the flowers are so content

to decorate the earth.

 

 

 

  

~ by dianeklammer on March 7, 2013.

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