Poetry - Issue 23 | November 2015

Yukon River Aurora

by D. B.

Yukon River Aurora

An old Renault 12 got us here from 400 Ontario
across miles of ancient bedrock and golden plain –
turquoise girls in Saskatoon night – swinging up
the Alaska highway graded rough toward Kluane,
a chewed-up eel deep in mud and gravel, a lone
German hitchhiker – looking alien in endless reach
of northern Alberta bush – uber-happy to see
our filthy car riding brave towards Whitehorse
and share the joints and jerky into storied Dawson
where the Sourdough Saloon’s lager was eager
to drown a boreal dust penetrating everything.

Mr. Service handled us long before the actual pans
were thrust into creek beds by our unskilled hands –
his glitter more real than any pretending flakes
found in our palms, a trickster crow on the bank
squawking at the grizzly-buddha upstream in vigil
for juicy salmon on a true rush, painting water
in flashing streaks of fuchsia-pumpkin, the far roar
of major-key falls whose words weren’t yet born
in our heads so we couldn’t even think of writing
letters about what this meant or the Yukon’s care-
less beauty cutting into us on route to the Bering.

The night Jimmy took his malamute, Jethro, down
to a blanket of smooth motley stones at the edge
of the river’s grab, I said forget the tabs of acid.
He looked like I’d just demolished the car’s 8-track
or, worse, his dog had betrayed him, running to join
a timber-wolf pack. He was serious when he said
Jethro had spoken to him last time, not in English
but in the language of the local Tr’ondek Hwech’in.
When I asked Jimmy how he knew for certain since
even he didn’t know the basics, he said he just knew.
Watching the sky awaken, I hid the rest of the stash.

Our chilled backs flat on old hard eggs from earth’s pot
belly, tonight’s river a boundary breaking, its scherzo
lifting part of autumn into liquid sky to dilate in its wild
plunge, Arctic streams of spectral fire in parallel snake –
solar flares and magnetic field mattered but not then
with glacial blue, avocado-green, tamarack-gold making  
honey up in a bed of black—tentative brushes against
molten arms teasing the star-lust, twisting in to change
our colors, a concentrated splash, feathering and pulsing
in this brief play of radiant sheets unfurled to a magic pole.
At dawn, a moose call and Jethro poetic in his wet tongue.


About the author

D.B. Goman, an educator, activist, and singer/songwriter, has traveled extensively, working in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. His poetry, stories, and travel essays have appeared in various journals including The 2River View, Ditch Poetry, Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine, Storyacious, and Travelmag. He currently lives in Canada.

More in the archive »