Six a.m., overcast along the Icy Straits, water
clouded with milky floes, fragments—
a lost language?
Approaching the inlet, a calm bay
devoid of color, azure vaults
hoard all the hues and shadows.
Here, a glacial advance, ground down evidence,
dwellings shoved into the sea.
Destruction, debris, rubble dropped on a whim.
I remember the Tlingit mask, a tiny face emerging
from one cheek screaming.
All talk at the ship’s railing is of cameras,
magnification, and who is standing
in the way of the best shot.
Pulling away, iceblink
from a faraway field gleams yellow.
The rigid tundra stands watch, stunted growth
I imagine split corridors, ancient migration
reaching south to Nevada’s Great Basin,
amorphous space, a land we used to know.
Here, old words survive. Athabaskan,
Raven, the little god who stole the sun.