Toolik Seasons

Lori Petrauski

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Lori Petrauski

Lori Petrauski is a Community Science Fellow with American Geological Union's Thriving Earth Exchange. She wrote this poem at Toolik Field Station. As an ecologist, she studies biological events in relation to the seasons. 
 
January –
The sun came up
for the first time this year.
You, in your feathered-down suit,
looked south from
the arctic field station,
waited as the horizon brightened,
minute by minute,
and the mountain peaks
became more rugged with light.
Finally, through a notch
in the mountains,
our solar system's star,
blinding and beautiful,
Shot light through the frozen air
and into your eyes.
Expansive reverie. Time still.
Moments later the pink light
slipped back behind the ridges
and you were expected
to go about your work
as if the world hadn't been made new.
 
 
May –
Wooly Lousewort, the wild potato,
bubbles up out of the thawed ground,
shivers its way into existence,
still donning its winter down,
Like a chick cracks out of its egg
And shakes out damp feathers –
Curls of dense purple and white.
Growing from snow and heather.
Time defined by a pallet of plants –
Now is the season of birdsong,
flowers, and arctic romance.
 
 
July –
Under the clear night sun,
In a cloud of mosquitos,
The valley stretched out,
streaked with Dryas and Arnica –
Immense forests underfoot,
tiny leaves and branches,
Complex textures, complex structures.
Rises and falls of every step.
Vastness of moss and flower.
A solitary wolf trots up the valley,
As if the expanse is manageable, ordinary.
Sinewy and content, she moves
Through the moss and hummocks
And disappears.
Swallowed into the landscape,
cold water through a sieve.
The only thing to do,
is kneel at the base of wonders
And drown in everything.
 
 
September –
A watcher of the seasons,
a good granddaughter,
I pick the berries one by one,
and notice where they are plenty,
where they are absent.
Gingerly I stack berry on berry,
until the curved boat of my palm floods,
and they run rivers through my hands.
Now even the air is medicine.
Gifts that rise from the tundra
like jewels, like magic.
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This work was written to be a part of "Science on the Move." The goal of this collection is to expand science outreach to incarceated people and to increase knowledge exchange between inside and unconfined audiences.

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