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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Suzanne Pearce

Suzanne Pearce
Remembering Glacier Bay, Summer of 1971


All morning we chugged along the coast
of the inlet, adding on parkas, warming our palms
on the engine box. On the bare rock slope the trimline
told how this place, calm as a storm’s eye
once cradled a greater glacier that received
snow after snow, became slow-inching ice
crashing chunk by chunk into the water, welling up
house-sized waves onto the naked coast.

And so the bay was receiving
the substance of the glacier–cracked as an old palm
with age and dirt –loosing, green-blue to the eye
giant jewels as from an assembly line;

and as the new day follows the old at the dateline,
for millions of years new forms have been born from the crashing
apart of the old, floating with closed-eye
fetal calm, silent as we are, now coasting
among them.


Now we learn that long before us,
palm-trees grew in Wyoming, and ferns in the Arctic
when the earth received some cosmic signal to heat up.

Now we start to receive the news
like meltwater trickling:
trend lines are rising–the heat, the sea, the CO2.

Now we stand with trembling palms
to applaud the brave climatologist.
The facts crash in from all directions
onto the stubborn coast of our understanding—
the ice sheets thinning in the satellite’s eye,
the glaciers shrinking in the camera’s eye.
In this crash-course we’re sure to receive
a terrible grade. Bottom-line:
adrift, we coast.


Blundering, we jolted the hand that so slowly
guided the grinding glacier to the coast,
slid the land along the earthquake line,
kept the natural balancing act from crashing
and gently held our fortunes in its palm.

Alaska, Alyeska, “great land,” you cannot return to ferns and palms,
thawing out new passages for the plundering eye.

Scientists, presidents, go to the Northern coastline,
take in your palms a trickle of silt and let the bay receive
it back again. Let eyes and ears record the icebergs’ crash.
Suzanne Pearce lives in Cambridge, MA where she has been writing poetry for decades and working in the peace and disarmament movement. She has had small translations of Armenian poems published in Ararat Quarterly, poems published in Comstock Review and The Path, and she has received Honorable Mentions in two New England Poetry Club contests. She is a member of Class Act Poets –


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