Did She Marry a Bear?

The Inuit woman behind us on the bus
pointed to the giant white blocks
in an igloo’s circular shape — the Museum.

Half the lower floor, occupied
by the Anchorage Historical Museum,
was guarded by Otto, a stuffed grizzly.

On the top floor an artsy outhouse stood,
more grotto than latrine with half a door
and street signs from down the block.

I loved the painting of a golden retriever
and naked man swimming side by side in a cyan sea.
Or was it a young grizzly with a woman?


Wringer Washer

Due to the permafrost, Bob said,
impenetrable, two-thirds of Fairbankians
use outhouses like my friend’s
with the moon-carved door.

Bob taught forty years
at a Yupik tribal school,
special education the last fifteen,
before retiring to drive buses.

His wife of 35 years
retired her wringer washer
when they moved to the city,
kept it as a souvenir.

My mother used a wringer for years.
I hung the sheets in the breeze,
terrified of getting my fingers
caught in the rollers.

My husband and I bought one
for our first home. That must have been
when he started doing the laundry.
More memory of it washed clean.


What’s That?

Raindrops bead the wooden ledge.
A sailboat moors between us
and Ketchican, home of lumber yards,
madams and totem carvers.

I sit on the boat’s veranda
wrapped in navy plaid wool blankets:
one on my legs, another on my shoulders.
I could use a third.

We’re on the starboard side,
see only open water,
land and a few houses.
On the port side the Ramada Inn,
Exxon gas station, and Darby Grain Elevator
I do not miss seeing.

One prolonged note whirls:
Owl? Wolf? Loon?
Another odd spinning sound:
Sea lion? Orca? Boat?

A white floatplane passes
over two trawlers moored nearby.
Another takes off behind them.
I hear one more in the distance.

They take off in front of me;
this channel, a runway
for the otherwise land-locked.


Glacier Gardens

Green, not white as I expected
within the Juneau landscape,
spruce and hemlock
grow upside down,
their roots skyward, covered
with moss that embraces ivy,
creeping Charlie, ferns, petunias,
impatiens cascading earthward
in a forest of flower towers
around a giant greenhouse
where open umbrellas, suspended,
add a rainbow of shade.


In Pursuit of Bears

On the bridge over Steep Creek
we spotted their prey, slim red coho

lay their white cloud of sperm
on eggs hidden among stones.

Muir saw millions of silvers
crowded in a river,

so many his canoe
couldn‘t pass through.

At this Juneau bridge,
a half dozen silver salmon,

now red, swam under the bridge
at the end of their spawn.

One lay on its side,
his eye above a hooked snout,

glazed, motionless,
sperm flowing.


This work was first published as part of the Sage ~ December 2017 Issue, of the Coldnoon journal.



Kate Hallet Dayton

Kate Hallet Dayton

Kate Hallet Dayton's first poetry collection Salt Heart was published by Nodin Press (2013). Two poems from Salt Heart were published in Nimrod International Journal, Awards 34. Her chapbook, Catalpa, was also published in the same year. Her chapbook, Missing, was published in 2004. She received an Award of Merit in Byline’s Poetry Chapbook Competition and ten poems from Missing earned her a finalist position for the Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize.  Her poetry, short stories, profiles, memoirs, reviews, essays and travel pieces have been published in  American Voices, Flyway, The Star Tribune, The Minnesota Monthly, North Coast ReviewPassages North, Whistling Shades and Nimrod International.