Porky wrote a pamphlet for the cruise ships
about an island populated with pink flamingos.
He explained how each year a special flock comes north
because a rare hydrothermal vent ten meters west of the island
spews hot water and chemosynthetic archaea,
creating the ideal climate for the brine shrimp flamingos eat.
Not much bigger than the Murray Pacific parking lot,
the island’s rocky shore and Sitka Spruce are the only place
in Alaska that a flamingo will land.
This rare flock has recently diminished to five or six,
one or two hanging upside down, but they used to number fifty
or sixty and be pink as Porky’s gums when he smiled,
hanging plastic flamingo bodies from trees.
Once, flying in a friend’s old Beaver, Porky dropped
a batch of tires on top of Mount Edgecumbe,
came back on foot to light a bonfire and stamp April Fools
on the volcano’s snowy cone. The Coast Guard didn’t know
it was a false alarm until they flew over the dome in a chopper.
These days I suppose Porky would go to jail for a prank like that.
Otters eat thirty percent of their body weight each day
because they have no blubber for insulation. People say
Porky ate his whole weight in pranks each day
to warm his tobacco-stained whiskers and curled toes.
He had no old lady for insulation and the winters here
bite like a wet dog. And the dark, it isn’t even lit by stars.
I keep dreaming of Porky, wishing death wasn’t so chronic
a condition, wishing he’d come back and make me,
teeth shining in the night, smile big as a gibbous moon.
When my hands curl and cramp,
stiff and wracked as cracked kelp,
I’ve been sweeping this seine
into careful heaps for too long
and when I sleep palms pressed flat,
protecting fragile tendons, flex of the wrist,
I dream my fingers bloom with lichens,
stems and caps pooled with freshwater.
What is it to stay? To know dirt?
I want to watch roots cast shadows
in the dark, to watch how light spreads
like an emerald wake under a maple in sun.