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Vo l . 6 N o . 2 father had served in the Pacific Theatre, only I didn’t know much about it. “I have two sons,” I said, “and sadly, they never got to meet their grandfather. I was hoping I could bring back some good war stories, or some photographs. Something to make them proud.” I turned and headed into the direct sunlight down the other side of the deck. I wasn’t sure what else there was for me to do, but I could not bring myself to leave the ship. Had I seen it from every possible angle? Did I need to write down other facts about turrets and beam? The breeze intensified and the gusts of wind felt good. It set me to daydreaming we were at sea, not anchored in the Charles River, that we were out speeding through the vast Pacific blue, the sound of the ship’s wake crashing, the commanding wind whistling through and over the ship’s stainless steel parts, the salt air coating my lips. The docent approached again when he saw me staring into apparent nothingness. “Well, we’re mighty glad you came to admire the ship,” he said with a smile. And as if to offer some solace, he lightly touched my arm. “Here’s something else you might be interested in,” he said. “Her motto was Forward for Freedom.” “Forward for Freedom, it’s a perfect ship’s motto,” I said. “In the Navy’s jargon, all ships are referred to in the feminine,” the docent said. “Take this beauty here, for instance, the U.S.S. Wisconsin. She isn’t mothballed. We like to say she has finally come home to rest.”

Alaska Landscape

Katherine Coons

Erica Watson

Staying Home It is no longer possible to live in Alaska, or anywhere else, and keep out the world. --John Haines

I developed an addiction to the early weeks of the Occupy Wall Street movement the same way that people develop addictions to soap operas and online gambling. My politics became passive, consumptive, consuming. Maybe they always had been. But even viewed from a log cabin in the woods in a season when “going out” could mean a trip to the post office, the stream of online updates from friends and reporters made it possible to feel like I was doing something. All I did, really, was spend a lot of time at my computer, simultaneously feeling an intimate connection to the birth of the real American Revolution, and a distinct sense of being left out. Though few activities appealed to me less than urban camping with a bunch of twentysomething year old men, I considered making a cardboard sign bearing some catchy slogan to summarize my disillusionment and driving to Anchorage to participate in the occupation there. I didn’t, deciding instead that there is a limit to how much money should be spent on fuel in the name of social and economic justice. Then a photo of a woman alone with her dogs, holding a sign reading “Occupy the tundra” went viral, and it became clear that driving wasn’t necessary. That picture gave me permission to be rural and alone in the gray and brown fall and still be part of something. Maybe even doing wasn’t necessary, and showing was enough. Maybe staying home was enough. Staying home is easy in October. Between the short, bright summer and the coming winter, October brings uninviting gray skies and the first sharp, cold winds. Vegetation has shed its fall color but isn’t yet covered in snow. Socially, it’s the month people tend to withdraw after the frenetic summer season and before reemerging into winter activities. Conditions were ripe for an internet addiction. My online political advisors tell me that Facebook is only a communication tool, that real change happens with face to face conversation, when we talk to our friends about it. One night I took a break from October hermitage to have dinner with friends, and I tried, sort of, to talk about

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