Shakes Island

Recently I participated in the Shakes Island rededication in my hometown of Wrangell, Alaska. Each of the photos includes a fifty word poem to accompany it. Poetry is a means of making sense of the colors, sounds, smells, people, and ceremonies that are a part of my life.

Grandson, know how the ovoid bends, how the split-U forms feathers, how frog is wide-lipped. And a hundred years from now someone will touch your adze marks, run their fingers along a wing, a clawed foot and know—you are the shoreline, the eagle’s curved beak, the frog’s bent knee.  
Old wide mouth bear, you rescued people from the flood. You rescued me, too, a teenage girl writing poetry beneath your open hands. I scratched poems in school notebooks, blue ink, with a baby growing in my belly. Later, I laid my child at your feet offering her up to cedar.
Bear Screen: newly carved with human hair adoring your ears. A generation awaits you— kids smoking cigarettes on the island, moms and babies, a fisherman waiting for the tide to swallow the grid. You begin your story, button robes catching the light, dancers beneath your feet.



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