Not so long ago, the ground only
turned to muskeg once a year, at spring.
But lately spring becomes longer and longer—
a vast, insidious tide of blue quicksand.
Where once we were white with glacial glare,
now we are white with exhaustion.
How do we answer the hunger
in our little ones’ eyes? At least
they can forget occasionally—
spun in a cub’s delirious
tumbler—even mobbing mama
into the blissful game. O carefree days,
so long gone for me now.
Like a memory so ancient, you wonder
if it was a dream, a lie of imagination.
That blank tundra can be both trap
and escape. Oh, yes—imagination exists
vividly in this clan. We can imagine
a crisp, blue-white world of ice cliffs
and half-asleep gods in the water—a shuffling
somnambulist dance under sheet-pale sun.
When it is gone, we will imagine it alive,
because it is in our bones down to the marrow.
We have lived just such a wonderworld—swum it,
fished it, fought its storms beneath quilts
of glittery snow. But we are hunters,
not marathon swimmers. And I fear
as the horizon becomes liquid and
more and more distant, it will stretch
and snap what’s left of my heart.
©2011 Sean Arthur Joyce