My last blog was an Alaska Native myth illustrating, among other things, how humanity can be more compassionate to animals. Too many of my friends say things like, “Who cares if some owl or frog goes extinct because we cut down some forest or drain some pond to build a parking lot or storage facility so we can store the excess of our consumerism. It’s in the name of progress!” Does progress mean that all other life is expendable if it gets in the way of humanity building a new Big Box Store and accompanying parking lot, even though 99% of everything we buy ends up in the landfill within a year? Is the existence of other beings less important than our garbage? As someone who lived in Alaska through four decades, I have had unique experiences with nature that have taught me that we are all passengers on this “Pale Blue Dot” afloat in the vast darkness of space—the only planet we know of that is brimming with life. Over the years, I have written numerous poems about what I have learned about sharing the planet with other beings that also call this place home.
MY CONVERSATION WITH A FOX
When the startled fox
stepped from its leafy forest
I knelt in raven-colored light
bleating like a wounded hare
until he came
nervous and reluctant
to question my patient hand
open like a tundra rose.
SONG OF THE RAIN
A soft rain begins to fall.
A ground squirrel comes out from the rocks,
his small head cocked—
both of us listening to the raindrops singing.
-after the flood receded
A dead moose calf along the river’s edge.
I make a small fire on a sandbar
sing an old Indian prayer
and the universe will understand.
*Twice in my life I have risked my life by jumping into a raging river to save a drowning moose calf because their heavier and stronger mother was able to forge the swift current—once on the Goodpaster River; the other on the Klutina River. I found this unfortunate calf along the Chatanika River, just north of Fairbanks.