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P
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In Alaska I slept in a bed on stilts, one arm

pressed against the ice feathered window,

the heat on high, sweat darkening the collar

of my cotton thermals. I worked hard to buy that bed,

walked towards it when the men in the booths

were finished crushing hundred dollar bills

into my hand, pitchers of beer balanced on my shoulder

set down like pots of gold. My shift ended at 5 a.m.:

station tables wiped clean, salt and peppers

replenished, ketchups married. I walked the dirt road

in my stained apron and snow boots, wool scarf,

second-hand gloves, steam rising

off the backs of horses wading chest deep in fog.

I walked home slow under Orion, his starry belt

hung heavy beneath the cold carved moon.

My room was still, quiet, squares of starlight

set down like blank pages on the yellow quilt.

I left the heat on because I could afford it, the house

hot as a sauna, and shed my sweater, my skirt,

toed off my boots, slung my damp socks

over the oil heater’s coils. I don’t know now

why I ever left. I slept like the dead

while outside my window the sun rose

low over the glacier, and the glacier did its best

to hold on, though one morning I woke to hear it

giving up, sloughing off a chunk of antediluvian ice

that sounded like the door to heaven opening

on a badly hung hinge. Those undefined days

I stared into the blue scar where the ice

had been, so clear and crystalline it hurt. I slept

in my small room and all night—or what passed for night

that far north—the geography of the world

outside my window was breaking, changing shape.

And I woke to it and looked at it and didn’t speak.