To wonder at miles of unscripted snow,
its stories in the dazzled floss of reeds,
trails of caribou across the ridge.
To settle below low roofs, soft chevrons
pooling blue shadows around windows;
to know mountains, lakes, sky, their storms and winds,
days pared by snow, nights rimed with ice;
to tread carefully across that ice, navigating tracks
of snowmobiles and sleds, parallel lines
pocked with prints, tethered dogs, sturdy and patient,
the smell of blizzards deep within their fur.
as Artefact, as Wealth, as Problem
To exploit, employ, utilise
pits of saturated peat, deposits of pitch
and petroleum, oil-seeps;
to construct a thousand miles of pipeline
across the frozen ground from Prudhoe Bay
all the way to Valdez, crossing paths
where the caribou tread,
where the ghosts of caribou tread.
To extract the hot oil, draw it out below
the perma-frost, to gush through feeder-lines,
to chug from pumping stations to terminals.
Watch the ice darken and pool, your footprints
and tracks become ruts and gullies.
Put your black prints all over the map, wonder
at these fleeting summers, the feeble light
unable to restore the land,
ponder the ancient plants
releasing their long-held breath across the Earth.