tea banner


Stone polygons -


I have been thinking of you today, Alaska. The isolate island of tundra that has made me a stranger - everywhere else. The place I have missed for the last ten years. The place that is all grey and cold with splotches of bright angry red, rusted blue and faded painted yellow clapboard. The smell of urine, blood, smoked fish and dust. The sound of an ancient culture's death throes so near I had clutches of her hair in my fists - thought maybe if I hid it for later, I might help her a little, a fish belly white child and ignorant.

And you hated me for it and loved me. Skinning my knees then dressing them in seal skin - you fed me aguduk and I choked on it and smiled politely. You were dying slowly then and I wonder how far the cancer has spread since I left you. Another story of colonization as old as the hills Russian Orthodox built a church on. Souls and families destroyed by alcohol and by the loss of roots and by truck loads of youth shipped to colleges away from your arms and your myths and your porcupine quills.

Today it occurred to me that it has become a trend to have a cause. I suppose it's not the worst thing to have hit pop culture except that it waters down the intent with wrist bands and mass emails to senators all of which will reach the landfill in thirty days or less as so much lead weight in the gullets of seagulls.

I can't say why some are expected to withstand so much suffering in their lifetimes. So many come into the world bleeding and bleed until it is over. It is enough to break my heart, truly, honestly, un-condescendingly so. So I send them some rice and a warm cap for the new little one and maybe a teacher to learn to read the nutritional facts on their bag of cornmeal that will tell them what their bellies already know which is it is not enough, is not working, is broken, is sliding off the plate.

It is so complex and so sticky - helping. Helping a culture and a soul not your own but one that you love for that very reason so you observe, you are quiet for a very long time - wait for her to understand what she needs and to ask you, offer her shoes in the meantime to ward off the blisters.

I have always known I would go back. That arduous journey, a six hour flight just to Anchorage, a jaunt to the prop plane, three barf bags later, the alien horror and awe of the stone polygon tundra below and a village on a hillside you can still smell the breeze of. I hope I will find that 'my' culture has not won out. I hope there are still elders and blankets and porcupine quill earrings. I hope they will remember me - the shiny white moon face and orbital eyes of a foreigner they loved and abhorred like the seasons.

I hope when I go, you will embrace me, you will sit me down with some duck stew, a can of peaches and a story to bring back on a canvass on a video on a wristband.

1:05 p.m. - 2007-09-28


previous - next

latest entry

about me





random entry

other diaries:


This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from cecilialooks tagged with ceciliaruns. Make your own badge here.