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Puffins, Day Five Diana Woodcock After dinner, the captain calls us to the deck, slows the ship beside steep inaccessible bird cliffs. I count twelve Atlantic puffins settled on narrow ledges among uncountable Northern fulmars, Brünnich’s guillemots, Little auks and Arctic skuas, Blacklegged kittiwakes. Ecstatic, having seen a dozen of the few puffins choosing to breed in the high Arctic marine zone, ship sailing on past snow-streaked mountains, I sit an hour later beside my porthole, counting fulmars sailing with us, marveling how the oldest puffin ringed here in this timeless place, steeped in ice and grace, was thirty-six. Sheltered in my ark of a Barquentine tall ship named Antigua, back among the familiar joys – sea, clouds, wind – turning again away from politics and other irritants as the midnight sun wears on, to rest where every sense is nourished, all exhaustion and distress vanishing as the mind focuses on the clown-like faces of sea parrots breeding on steep cliffs. Oh to live on that island near the Arctic Circle, to celebrate the awaited day each April when, 116

2017 Freshwater Literary Journal  

Professional literary journal produced at Asnuntuck Community College