In Alaska

Charlotte Muse


[Table of Contents]
[Editor's Note]

On a rough beach
a finger of rock is pointing at
a ragged piece of driftwood lying by a larger rock.
Then more stony sand,
a wild river.

I'd come there to see white mountains
and icebergs roaring and turning blue insides out to the light.
I would have preferred to ignore the rock finger,
but what we see makes us responsible for it.
I watched it change, before my eyes, into a ridge,
then become a finger again,
then a ridge

The rock told me that it could be pointing, or it could be
a mountain range. It knows the earth inside and out. It said
odd juxtapositions are in the world. It said the driftwood is death.
It said, this is your mind.

If the water hasn't risen,
or a bear hasn't kicked it aside on its way to the salmon,
if a wolf hasn't dragged its dog's tail and uprooted it,
the rock is still there, changing and changing



"In Alaska" was initially published in Generations, The Zapizdat World Anthology, Zapizdat Publications, 1993.


Charlotte Muse lives in Menlo Park, California, but fell in love with Alaska the first time she went there, on a river trip down the Tatshenshini fifteen years ago. Ever since, she has been working on a musical comedy set in Alaska, and has written the book, music, and lyrics, although she tends to lack marketing skills. She is also the author of a chapbook, The Comfort Teacher, and a book of poems, Trio, written with two other poets, Edward Smallfield and Toni Mirosevich. She has been back to Alaska twice more and still dreams about it. She teaches poetry for U. C. Berkeley Extension, among other places, and sometimes yearns for a wilder life. [email]