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Cormorant on the Westman Islands, Iceland

He hangs out his wings to dry
soggy his dive
lazy on lava he loiters, waits
for whatever flounder dare wander
in harbour waters
beneath his razor-sharp rock.
Hungry, daggerbeak hook-tipped
aloof
quick wing-tuck, neck-stretch
so sudden the plunge to survive.

 

Westman (Vestmannaeyjar) Islands, S. Iceland

 

 

 

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Glow Worm

Cup in hand I take my tea at midnight
down a darkening track
lush chestnut oak and elm hang heavy
wheat field hushed, summer breeze between the husks halted.
Silence is a darkness too familiar.

Breath of cattle huddled by the fence
shadows sighing from their lazy sleep
disturbed by another passing shadow
shadowed by the lack of any future.
All lovelust gone our life expires.

No use in clutching wreckage of despair
I walk away – you drink too much
lift your glass, dismiss the issue
swallow truth.
There is no future us together.

Thick darkness wraps its cloth around the hearing
clink of glass on bottle mottled deadened to
relief of non-existence
lost in stars beyond defined horizons.

A star lies fallen at my feet
couched in the summer sunburnt fern.
Lured by its glow I lean down
to the widening circles of its shimmer-halo
wondering at the aureoles of light
blues and greens and phosphor-burning white.
I empty my cup, slip the creature in
it wriggles it illuminates the emptiness within,
the stains of tannin tracing fear across the porcelain
then dims.

Caged in my cup, your light goes out.

 

The male glow-worm gives out less light than the female;  but he can fly, whereas she cannot and depends on her bright glow to attract him.  They still glow down our lane each summer, however ephemeral their star-like lights are.

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Loon (on Lake Denise, Soldotna, Alaska)

It’s the call over still water
echoing round the bay of my mind
some yearning, undefined

A loon owns this lake
at dusk and at dawn reminding us
of things unresolved.

We row out to find him
smooth grey feathers impervious to rain.
King of the underworld he dives

muted, elusive.
for how long will he haunt us
unseen, unexplained?

He resurfaces, the water rolls off him
like a world one forgets
but we cannot.

He swims head high
but what does he keep fettered
under those black and white prison-bar wings?

 

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Clamming in Ninilchik, Alaska

Razor clams here are the size of babies’ hands
opened up to catch the midnight sun.
They roll in with the tide and lie on sand
full and fleshy, their tumbling journey done.
Above, a Russian church, its golden dome
a gleaming refuge for those who seek a home.
But eagles, ravens coast with eager eye
and clammers armed with spades and knives arrive –
clams bury downwards as the shadows loom
of wings or claws or the clammers spoon
a feast for those who have the craft to find
those rippled markings camouflaged like waves
in sand so fine which cossets them like babes –
babes of the sea who cry on land exposed
under cliff and cloud their little hands tight closed
while up above a Tlingit pastor’s hands
are held in prayer for those who come to land
in Ninilchik, in Cook Inlet, across a glacial bay.

razor clams, Ninilchik
razor clams, Ninilchik

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A member of the Tlingit tribe, from the Eagle Clan, was a temporary replacement in 2012 while awaiting a new orthodox priest for the parish of Ninilchik, Alaska. The history of the Orthodox Church of America began with the arrival of eight Russian Orthodox monks at Kodiak Island, Alaska in 1794.   The monks established a mission in Alaska, which was made a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church a few years after the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867.

See essay: Ninilchik, Alaska

Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration, Ninilchik, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. In the distance is Redoubt Volcano on the other side of Cook Inlet.Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration, Ninilchik, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska,
Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration, Ninilchik, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.  See An orthodox Tlingit in Alaskak.

y: Ninilchik, Alaska

 

Clamming in Ninilchik