Oct/Nov 2004 Travel

Hubbard Glacier: a haibun

by Allen McGill

The Pacific deepens to a richer gray with each day's journey north. An endless horizon in constant change as the sun arches: reflecting, absorbing light. Crisp air, wild and pure. Vague, dark shadows lie far to the east, the only evidence of land.

Lacy wavelets flow outward in ordered cadence from the ship's sides. The forward surge creates a playground for our accompanying dolphins.

sun gleams
off sleek black and white—
billowing clouds

Almost imperceptibly, the ship veers east to enter the fjord. Dark, fir-bristled mountains rise on either side. Small ice floes pass. Solitary islets stand sentinel as we ease through the narrow strait.

The sun is high in vivid blueness, clouds brilliant, white. The unexpected silence in this pristine world is almost frightening.

Another turn; many more ice floes pass; the passage grows narrower. We funnel toward a vast, open area. On entering, we are confronted by Hubbard Glacier, a soaring monument of blue-white ice glaring in the sun.
Breathtaking. Enormous. A vast expanse. The remnant of our antediluvian past.

A shard breaks off to plunge into the frigid sea.

so close
the majestic mountain—
six miles away


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