Talkeetna, Alaska by Sarah Stern

Talkeetna, Alaska

Salmonberry scat piles
In the middle of the trail

Mountain goats, moose on permafrost
Fireweed ice cream in town

Otter eating crabs—sleek pashas of the harbor
Glaciers calving, blue thunder

Seals sleeping on the narrow
paying us no mind

In the Pacific
We are temporary

The orcas—a matriarchy—
The biggest mommas’ boys around

The captain of our one-day cruise tells us
Her sons stay with her their whole lives

At the roadhouse with the bathroom
Down the hall, I couldn’t sleep

I keep thinking of her like that—arched in midair
Her white markings ablaze.

by Sarah Stern

Sarah on Facebook

Twitter: @SarahStern3

Editor’s Note: Imagery at the opening of this poem slowly gives way to a subtle tension and wonder as the narrator’s voice comes to the front during the last four lines.