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February 5, 2015

—for Alaska
Here, I sound out
my capable names:
mountains cresting over ice,
watersheds staggering
like Nana’s veined capillaries
trafficking wild weeds
with loose bone husks
left from a century’s kill.

I would have accepted any
of it: the complicated uqautchit
from tribal-tongued elders—
stag-stew full, nursing mittens
from scavenged fur—
or even the simple, clumsy cadence
of American cartographers
with rough-toothed ardor
as if Sir Edmund Hillary
were stupid uqabnibluktuq:
a dunce with a mission.

Name me anything that
is not rootless: tacit howls
or slipping rock, blueberry patches,
windstrewn dirt like down
wrapping up the tundra,
But I cannot claw earth.
I stay small, unhidden,
exposed to the sloppy trudge
of evolution, the banal
erosions, the arctic swells
and evaporations:

I am almost always
a word already gone.

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