Petroglyphs and Sea Glass

7 Experiences on Petroglyph Beach, Wrangell, Alaska

1. The killerwhale moves along the surface of the stone sea. The spiral spins in gray sky. Raven catches the sun in his beak. Rain and ocean moves the shapes across the rocks.

2. Johnathon, my daughter's partner, digs in the black muck on the beach; his yellow hands pull a brown glass bottle from the hole. Beside him my daughter stands over him, hands on her hips. He says, "Darling, I'm trying to find you a wedding ring."

3. Small streams of sea glass flow through the muck. The movement is slow; maybe more than 40 years. The water carries the glass from the hillside above and the glass moves toward the sea with the tide. Bottle tops, glass bottoms, separated from one another, wet with tide and covered in barnacles.

4. I pick up the pieces of sea glass. Barnacle covered bottle necks, round glass bottoms, old medicine jars, pieces and pieces of sea glass, filling plastic baggies, a five gallon bucket, my pockets. Tonight I know that my back will ache and I will float on the sea and dream of glass everywhere.

5. The old troller lays on its side in the mucky beach with its hull broken and gutted open like a wolf-killed deer. Beside it is another skeleton ship, its ribs splayed like a wooden whale. They smell of rotten wood and diesel. Around them is pungent orange popweed,  barnacles creeping closer, and sea glass shards shining in the afternoon light.

6. My hands are covered in black greasy muck, the city's garbage dump on the hillside above me. The dump is piled with last week's dinner, soda cans, plastic buckets, car engines. I pick up a clear glass bottle from the muck and shake the sand off. I twirl it around noting the shape,
the stamped words on the bottom. 1940s, 1930s?

7. Inside a bottle the barnacles still live. Orange rust-like substance is painted on the bottle's sides. Its jagged mouth is softened by decades of the sea sipping at its rim. I imagine that a child once tossed away the glass bottle. That child grew up while the sea kept on softening and shaping. I just visited that child's grave in the cemetery today; her name forgotten beneath moss.


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