Unplugged for a Week Along Alaska’s Inside Passage
Unplugged for a week In Nature’s wilderness. We cruised Alaska’s Inside Passage 12 pilgrims (five of them small children) Finding divine presence Everywhere Including games Of Yahtzee, Go Fish, Poker, War And endless rounds of Monopoly.
We started out In Petersburg’s fishing village With its canneries Reeking of halibut and salmon, Boats of all sorts, And Alaskan natives All wearing Levis, Weathered baseball caps Padded parkas And rubber boots Reaching beyond their calves In the mid-August rain.
Our vessel was a 100-foot yacht Called “Golden Eagle,” With its crew of five All under 30 – Its captain of 27 years Eager to talk of God Justice and Karl Marx, A wondrously skilled cook, Two naturalist guides Wise and competent beyond their years, And a delightful 20-year-old concierge.
With them, we hiked, kayaked, fished And immersed our selves In Alaska’s stark wonder Beyond anything Previously experienced: Spruce-covered mountains Blue calving glaciers Whales by the score, Sea lions, seals, otters, bald eagles, Wild churning waterfalls And a steaming hot spring Beside an icy lake,
All the while We read Michener's Alaska With its tales Of seductive cave women 12,000 years ago Of huge mastodons Saber tooth tigers, And giant Grizzlies 11 feet tall, Of sailors, miners, clergymen Saints and remorseless sinners Who slaughtered unsuspecting natives And purposely vitiated them With rum, racism and rapes Of native teenage girls Afterwards kicked and spat upon, Of heroic Eskimos With their mighty sled dogs, And enormous capacity To endure cold, long journeys Stupid Russians And even denser Americans.
It was the familiar story Of imperialist settlers And their colonial theft Of native wealth Arrogant beyond belief Imagining that white men Have a Manifest Destiny To ravish, torture, and kill Their humble betters Destroying Everything in their path Leaving chaos in their wake And Mother Nature prostrate, And bleeding to death.
Once we entered An empty lighthouse On a tiny island – A stubborn relic Of FDR’s New Deal, A sometime research center For maritime scholars And whale-trackers Who live there like monks Each summer And sleep in spartan bunkbeds Leaving behind crude sketches Of whales with Signature painted flukes, Along with Flashlights, compasses, charts And scattered coffee cups –
All proof Of purposes other Than ours And of transcendent life forms In that vast harsh outpost Across the well-worn foot path That became Captain Bering’s Strait For millions Man and beast alike.