Sleeping with the Glaciers
Your First Night Together
Little pieces of yourself are picked up and moved across the land. Rocks and reindeer that had been frozen in the crook of your neck are swept atop the vast white space of your belly and deposited near your hip bone. Old suitcases are rattled open and memories of tattooed frozen priestesses you thought dead are blown through the small hole of your belly button. Here, they catch on ice walls and ink drips down, creating a dirty cavern of stomach words. The glacier whispers: crevasse, erratics, nunatak. Above, dying bears wail with blood-soaked snouts. But you don’t really know below till you are intimate with a glacier. Sure, you understand that you will become a riverbed, a canyon. You expect boulders to be left as evidence of love in your bed. But as the glacier approaches, pulling the sound of gulls and waves with it, you reach your hands down to find bedrock becoming sediment. Ancient forests protrude, ice tombs of trees with snapped limbs. Frozen star fish litter and sparkle purples and lilacs until you start to really feel the girth of the whole thing. Walruses like captains bellow. We raise our heads, our necks exposed to the cool tilt of ice, enraptured as the world moves. You orgasm mountain tops and valleys.
Your First Few Millennia Together
When you first met the glacier, you grieved for the lack of eye-contact. Then again, knowing that you are wrapped up with 75% of the world’s fresh water made life seem plausible. Dreams that marked your childhood of relentless drowning by swimming pool or tsunami, from sunken ships and muddy ditches, suddenly had meaning. You didn’t have a good childhood, people encouraged you to think you would never be worthwhile. Primitive, the said, misinterpreting your work with ocher, the maps, dust. They took away your capacity to imagine a future. But the slow roll of the glacier, moving yet fully present, this pushes you into momentum. Even when chunks of ice splinter off and calve into the water, it seems as if time is holding still, an impossible pause as the iceberg levitates above the sea. If you fall off the glacier, will you levitate like that, even if only for a moment?
Anthropocene Anniversary (buy your baby a phone)
Years of compression make the glacier blue. No bubbles, no holes, just tightly packed blue. You can lick and lick and lick, and nothing. When the glacier is wrapped around you, you know the meaning of interconnectedness. No socialist memes necessary; ocean is snow is glacier is sea floor is continental shelf is iceberg. You wander but never find the place where you separate, and for a time, that seems hot.
Late-Stage Capitalism, a second coming
Until it’s not hot. It is, indeed, a glacier. Your shipping routes matter, your friends say, and you allow yourself the chance to hear them. You want to feed the bears, wrap up with a warm stretch of sand. Let the salmon spawn. You’ve secretly clocked the ice flow and snowmelt; you know what’s coming. What used to be a huge swath of ice sheet has shattered into collections of floating pieces in a rising ocean. You need an exit plan. No matter how many mountains were formed, no matter how pretty the winter light breaks over the deep green formed in the glacier’s wake, you deserve more. You deserve to move fast.
Kelly Gray (she/her/hers) is a writer and educator in Northern California on occupied Coast Miwok land, deep in fire country. She is the author of the poetry collection Instructions for an Animal Body (MoonTide Press) and the audio chapbook My Fingers are Whales and other stories of Cetology (Moon Child Press). Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Passages North, Pithead Chapel, Hobart, Under a Warm Green Linden, The Normal School, Barren Magazine, River Teeth, Lunch Ticket, Superstition Review and elsewhere. You can read more of her work at writekgray.com.