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The Highway

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The sea stars we use in our research are kept in a large blue tub. They cling onto the rigid sides like babies to a mother’s breast. Running down the steep switchbacks to the lab, I don’t expect carnage. But there it is: three disembodied sea star arms- two grey, one orange. Sagging flesh twitches feebly in the current from the input hose. Thousands of lifeless tube feet wilt and wave goodbye to a cruel and heartless life.
***
The skiff slams down against whitecaps and sea spray jumps up and hits my rosy cheeks like the spread of a shotgun. As we sit on the floor of the boat, focus shifts from the joviality of group interaction to the beauty surrounding us. Reflection on Creation stimulates reflection on oneself. Zombies- the decomposing corpses of memories, the living dead of my past- lurch in front of my glassy eyes: weddings, births, baptisms, life, beauty, pain, death, funerals. All the bumps, twists, turns, highs, lows, and pit stops on the highway of living.
***
The Seward Highway winds along the edge of Turnagain Arm like a massive black-topped snake. Turnagain water is not blue- more of a grey-tan. The Arm is corseted by the heaving mountains of the Chugach Range, who’s tops are draped with paper-white snow. The farther-away mountains are bluer than the water. Nearer ones are light grey rock, splashed with green-black. Glaciers bulge over the bosoms of the peaks. Streams and waterfalls tumble down the mountains’ flanks like dental floss. Above, unbroken clouds mimic the Arm’s pulsing waters.
The Highway leads to a destination as yet unseen, as the mountains and clouds and waters watch and whisper and wait: my eternal sentinels.



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