Behind the Kalagan Bar

By Mike Strom


What is cold? Gold is cold

At the bottom of a stream,

Matanuska cold and icy,

Alaskan River gold, is frigid.


Once I lived amid another

Life, a fantasy of delight wrapped

In foolish prideful desire.

But… only when adrift


In Cook Inlet, net in wheel

Night closing in, waiting

For the Coast Guard Helicopter,

A savior to chop in from Kodiak


To undo my stupidity

To understand how I could

Be weak when it was so cold

And I in pity rolled


Night set and the jagged ridge

above Kalagan Island silhouetted

and Mount Redoubt simmered

In icy mist along Aleutian Peninsula.


Where southbound Sister Mount Iliamna

that brooding mistress of the north tossed glacier ice

Crashing into icy inky black rushing tide

From Inlet to Gulf relentlessly to and fro,


And then the sound of a turbine powering

Chopping blades… in the shades

Of those great sentinels

Took the chill off the cold, so alone.


And then the light of a Kenai tender

Popped through the night, first a fire fly,

Then a beacon that swept us up

With the days catch of salmon.