The Native Road to the Deep North IX

June 25

In the morning, we’re loading the SUVs for our long journey back to Anchorage. It’s raining like it will never stop. We’re leaving one of our companions, Wai, here in Fairbanks. She will continue on a journey of her own, catch a ride back into the wilderness, and make camp in the mountains beyond this town. She will do geology field work in a part of the world so beautiful that I envy her new office at the top of the world from the top of my heart. I hope she finds good rocks. And so we smile, say our goodbyes, send up wishes that the rain will stop before she has to set up her tent, and then we are off.

Mourning skies
collecting cumulonimbus—
and holding back

Hours later, we are back in Anchorage, back at the beginning of the road we started down when we were born with this blood and first heard this song, as if awaking from a dream. We’re saying more goodbyes, as our party disperses back to homes hundreds of thousands of miles away.

Midnight children
in the sun-stained sky—
Alaska’s stars

*      *      *

They say home is where the heart is. And my heart, too, lies back there. It is beating
under the red soil in the American southwest, where the first mountains rise that begin the march of the Rocky Mountain range across this continent, finally ending here on the other end of the world, where I watch them sink back into the earth as the Brooks Range in the distant north, only to be erased by Alaska Range closer on the horizon. But I feel I am leaving a part of myself behind here: a shard of my heart that will keep dreaming of Alaska long after I have departed.

NativeRoad-IX-1I fall asleep in the dark, late night of an Anchorage hotel. I know in the morning, when I wake, I will board a plane, and the geology of south-central Alaska — the Chugach Mountains, Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, and the Kenai Peninsula — will fall away under the clouds, and I will be gone. But the rhythm of the dream will remain.

Hello, goodbye,
yonder clouds and snow. . .
the vanishing mountains

 

Kyle Bemis
Ph.D. Student, Statistics

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