Thursday, January 14, 2010
Magenta clouds crowded the ocean over a red, resting sun.
The Arctic sky dimmed, but would not curtain to night. Day never ended this time of year.
Two men coiled harpoon lines in a little boat. Wind scorched their faces. Salt withered their skin. Overhead, an eagle watched the wide waters for fish that weren't there.
One man tapped the other.
A nod to the horizon.
Stout shoulders turned toward strange scratches unrolling in the sky.
Long lines falling.
Like nothing they had ever seen.
As they watched, the tracks branched into hundreds more, like marshmallow claws reaching for Earth.
A pilot whale blew and broke water close by. A harpoon arrowed and stuck, whisking the line out of coils and snapping tight. The boat surged forward and plowed the swells. But the fight broke too soon. The men pulled a bent harpoon from the flame-tipped sea.
Two men coiled lines.
Wind scorched their faces.
Salt withered skin.
Neither spoke about the fresh claws streaking down the opposite horizon. Now both ends of the sky glowed like great hands grasping, continent to continent, over the pole.
The empty wind howled as one man rowed and the other rested his eyes.
Neither felt the nuclear heat encircling the lower world.
Neither especially cared.
Clear, frigid sky gazed down where the missiles had flown, and the men slipped toward home.
Above, the eagle wheeled to fish another day.