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the ride but the vein below my eye throbbed as I scanned the horizon. The lodge and dog operation were miniscule specks, but more disturbing, they were the only human imprint for miles. This world was populated with glacier highways, impenetrable mountains, giant trees, and the dark inlet – its tributaries reaching out like tentacles between the landmass. While I knew I was going to ‘remote’ Alaska (like Alaska wasn’t remote enough), my research did not prepare me for this type of wilderness. Despite the drone of the helicopter, all I could hear was Brian’s disapproval. “Get a grip, Jen,” he said, when I finally showed him the place online. We were propped up with an assortment of pillows against my headboard, the bed littered with half-read newspapers. “Will riding a dog sled bring you closer to this woman? Will touching her stuff really make a difference? You’ve got to get over this, forgive Nana, and move on.” “I really think I have to do this, Bri.” I reached for the fat folder that lived on my nightstand. The information on my real grandmother mounting like one of Brian’s legal cases. Brian closed the laptop and got out of bed. It was his turn to make the second pot of coffee. “I’m not looking at it again. You know I’d do anything for you, Babe, but you’re wrong on this. Let it go.” Later, when he was heading toward court, he gave me a longer than usual kiss. “I know it’s tough on you but going to Alaska is not going to fix it. Besides, I thought we made the decision about Paris this summer.” He amped his smile into the super smirk – a look he thought always worked. “Let’s see, the Louvre or dog sledding? Is that even a choice?” Even though I was barely talking to my fake

Saxifrage

Monica O’Keefe

grandmother, I shared Brian’s hesitation with her. She was furious, “He’s an idiot, Jennika. You can blame me for everything that ever happened to you, but lose the bozo. He’s worthless even with his fancy suits. Go to Alaska. You’re a reporter, you’ll never rest until you get this story.” “You can’t tell me what to do anymore,” I almost screamed into the phone. Then, I booked my trip to Alaska and told Brian I needed some space. So, here I am, standing on a glacier in the middle of nowhere. At sea level, the giant ice cube popped and belched as it shifted and sloughed off parts of its face into the water. Up here, the only noise besides my frantic thoughts crinkled under my boots. With each step, the icy snow announced my arrival in metallic tones, “City Girl on the Glacier. Repeat. City Girl on the Glacier.” Taking my elbow as if shepherding a drunk, Pete said, “It’s important to stay with me.” I could see no difference in the terrain of this frozen ocean, complete with waves and peaks of snow. But I knew about hidden crevasses, blue chutes to the belly of this beast. I let him lead me from the helicopter pad (a spray-painted X in the snow) toward the dog yard in the distance. Adrift in the snow, the motley crew of brown, white, black, and orange mutts lunged on chains, scampered on houses, and pranced in circles. Each mongrel with its own ramshackle house, a six-foot chain bolted to a post, and a bowl in an area not much bigger than a Volkswagen Bug. A howling wind joined the canine cacophony bringing with it the smell of dog shit and my own fear. “Don’t touch any of them,” said Pete. “They’re not pets.” “Wouldn’t dare,” I muttered hoping the wind would mask my words. The dog yard pulsed like a gridlocked intersection – each cur adding its yip, yowl, or whine to the stalled chaos. “They’ll calm down once I harness them,” said Pete. “Let’s go in the shed so you can hear me.” I followed him into a corrugated steel cavern. The make shift shed was not unlike a brokendown equestrian center. Harnesses hung off nails, straw heaps graced the floor, and a foul smell that could only mean dog gruel brimmed out of giant steel cans. If the fishy kibble smell transformed to horseshit; this place could pass for a barn. “You look calmer. What happened?” asked Pete. “This place is like a stable,” I said. “If I think of the

Profile for Michael Burwell

Cirque, Vol. 6 No. 2  

A Journal for the North Pacific Rim

Cirque, Vol. 6 No. 2  

A Journal for the North Pacific Rim

Profile for burwellm
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