Writing Poetry (of sorts) became an outlet for me.
I plan to share some Poems over the lifetime of this Blog.
In 1985 my wife and I graduated from college and immediately headed to Alaska for teaching jobs. We made the trip of almost 6ooo miles in ten days.
Shortly after arrival we were hired to teach in an Athabascan Indian village about 130 miles north of Fairbanks.
The village was on the road system, though the trip was arduous. The road was kept open most of the year, but especially in the winter the trip could be a dangerous so we only make the trek out three or four times a year.
|road to the village|
The road gets long going into Fairbanks,
As November winds swirl and howl and blow up drifts;
And darkness settles in early at the Pass.
|The road to the village at fifty below zero.|
When we arrived in the village for our first teaching job the village Chief came over to indoctrinate us. Among other things he said that the village had two wells we could draw water from. One was at the generator shed but it was polluted so we should use the one at the lodge (community building.) A few weeks later he came and told us that the well at the lodge was polluted so we should use the one at the generator shed. A few weeks later he came and told us the one at the generator shed was polluted so we should use the one at the lodge – this continued in some form for the rest of the year (We went into Fairbanks and bought a water distiller.)
The next year the state put in a new well at the fuel farm – and guess what… they struck fuel oil in the water.
|Snow melt water|
When we came in for our fifth year a new well had been drilled but half way through the winter the well went dry. We melted snow for bathing and dishes, and on the weekends traveled to the nearest village at the end of the road, fifty miles further down, to do our wash and bring back water.
THE WELL DILEMMA
It’s winter in Alaska
And it’s forty below.
The wind it’s howling
And it is starting to snow
One new well’s polluted
Another’s run dry.
The one drilled this winter
Doesn’t work – don’t ask why.
Five wells in five years
And you’re still afraid to drink.
For the water looks like coffee
And has a god-awful stink.
|Winter road to the nearest village|
to wash clothes and get drinking water.
So come this weekend
|They also had a Road House|
we could get a hamburger and beer
Our village was dry.
|The Stick Dance to communicate with the dead.|
When I can sit with pen and rhyme
No obligations to a job
No firm commitment time to rob
With days to do as I should please
To walk the woods and smell the breeze
And sit beside a roaring fire
And gloat because I am retired.
We stayed in Alaska for eight years. When we left we moved around, did some travel and finally returned to Maine. In 2004 we returned to Alaska for three years where I was principal in two southwestern villages. More on that at sometime in the future.
A link to a web page for Alaska teachers and visitors: Alaska Web Sights