There are structures on the ocean,
Steel castles erected by saints,
And the dolphins and the whales glide past them,
With unremarkable familiarity.

No one knows why,
Nor spends time to learn,
Why the glaciers calve cold blue like ultraviolet dragons,
And when Quinn arrives everyone jumps for joy.

On this island.

On this island I'm not sure anymore. Helicopter chop over the distant glaciers reminds me of Antarctica. Air clear as nothing makes the mountains smell ancient. On this island people walk their dogs away from the bears. Flight attendants recognize poorly disguised caribou horns in passenger's luggage and then look away. Girl bar singers hit notes in fourteen tone scales while men in carhartts and baseball caps offer a standing-O. Outside the palmeni vendor sells dumplings to blue-haired tourists from cruise ships.

We pick up hitchikers on the road from nowhere. A middle-aged couple. They hop in back smelling of cigarettes and light beer. They recount their life stories and we smile to each other. Everyone is from somewhere. Everyone is heading nowhere. Everyone works in a mine or a restaurant or a court. The hitchhikers have come to the island and made it home. Never going back to Fresno. Never going back to Phoenix. On this island no one is sure, and so no one remembers if there had been somewhere else for them, ever.

On this island the tides cover then uncover boats. On this island you shoo away the bears and mosquitoes. The whales breach off the beach. The eagles squeal for real. The berries grow in endless variety and no one knows why or cares to spend time to learn how she loved Quinn and mourns him still. On this island if you learn one word it must be gunalcheesh -- spoken to the men who carve the totems. On this island you trek into your personal wilderness and leave nothing unknown -- leave behind your ideas of warmth and accept the ice.

In obeyance to absolute zero, there is absolute freedom.

I could live on this island. I could give up warm forever.
I'm not sure.

But I think I could.

-- Juneau, Alaska