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Wednesday, August 26, 2020


by Xander Balwit

As the Trump administration edges closer to opening up oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Gwich’in communities are taking action. Within a day, the Gwich’in Tribal Council based in Inuvik and the Vuntut Gwich’in First Nation (VGFN) in Old Crow had issued a joint statement arguing that the decision was “a result of a rushed and inadequate environmental review process.”… The refuge, 30,500 square miles stretched along the Alaska-Yukon border, has been under US federal protection since 1960 after decades of campaigning on the part of environmentalists and Indigenous communities. It’s home to polar bears, wolves, and dozens of species of birds. It also serves as the calving grounds for caribou in Canada’s Arctic. —Cabin Radio, August 24, 2020

I do not know when the caribou calves
Untangle their legs and rise to canvass
The serpentine glacier rivers of the
The Alaskan coastal plain for the first time

An advocate says that any oil company who dares to drill
Could face “reputational risks.”
I do not know if there a season in which insatiable capitalists
Consider their reputations

It is in the spring, that the Porcupine Caribou calves
Are coaxed into being by the cold breeze
Off the ice of the Arctic Ocean,
Just one in four evading accidents
and arriving into adulthood

The fingers of caribou antlers extend above them
Extolling the immensity of wild Yukon mountains
While the fingers of T***p Administration reach
Below their hooves and extract
that which they should not

The seasons in the Alaskan Arctic Refuge are as distinctive
as the creatures roving it
Greed knows no season
although it too seeks greener pastures

Xander Balwit is a student of philosophy and German in Portland, Oregon. Her poetry and writing are often informed by her indelible passion for nature and the many marvelous creatures that dazzle and perplex us.