North

img007Traumatized and demoralized

I fled into the north

Heading to Dawson City to visit Tony’s sister

We had a few hundred dollars and a bag of weed

Journeying in my orange VW Thing

As we drove further north

The car became a curiosity, a rare thing indeed

Pulling conversations from the taciturn

As we watched gasoline prices exceed our imaginations

One night, while there still was night

On the Stewart Cassiar highway

We came around a bend and were stopped by a wall of gravel

That seemed impossibly high and wide

So we began to prepare for a long wait

Got out the Stoned Wheat Thins

Some cheese and a summer sausage

Figuring it was time for sustenance

When the wall was Moses’d

It parted

Bright lights shone cosmically

A D12 dozer was our rod and our staff

Parting the chaos of gravel mounds

With the smooth dexterity of a pastry chef

We followed

Looking more than a little ridiculous to grimy goliaths

Who you just knew only drove trucks

American ones

And probably didn’t eat Stoned anything

We were ejected into the blackness of beyond

Heading straight up the map

Through mountains of gravel

Northward we travelled in unhindered light

To a log cabin on the banks of the Klondike

The driveway was twenty miles long

Shared with wolverines and moose

And if it took time to get there

It was a place to feel at home

Secure in the knowledge that door to door salesmen

Would never bother to knock

We walked the wooden sidewalks of Dawson City

Avoiding the tourist trappings of Diamond Tooth Gerties

We drank sudsy drafts at backstreet bars

With wild eyed seekers

Big city retreaters

One day we impossibly piled a dozen new friends into the car

Drove to the Midnight Dome

Where we shared the last few joints and a pint of rye

Surveying the small outpost in relentless wild

Sensing possibilities beyond the horizon

So we made some possibles happen

Drove the Dempster to Eagle Pass

Where a full moon rose over our rough campsite

Then made way for the northern lights

Dancing starbright with the grace of a Bolshoi ballerina

We whistled them closer until we were covered in magic

Looking out across the arctic circle to the top of the world

We danced across the tundra

Past the dwindling line of pecker poles

Hopping from hippy head to hippy head

Forded icy rivers that ran with the speed of the chased

Rubbed shoulders with grizzlies and the grizzled

Whose independence was declared through the intensity of the gaze

As the summer wore on forest fires raged

Until the plumes crept over the next ridge

And choppers buzzed our lonely cabin

So we walked a few hundred yards up the twenty mile driveway

Discovered a command centre

Staging ground for firefighters who could always use help

So we signed up and up we went

Commuting to the smoke where we strapped piss pumps to our backs

Grabbed shovels and watched as timbers candled

Hoping for the wind to shift in time for lunch

Since we had never eaten as well as in that rough camp

Or gotten quite so dirty

Blacker than a Welsh coalminer

Soot that found its way through clothes to every inch of untanned skin

To be scrubbed the next week at the metered shower in town

Since the woodstove and hauled Klondike water only barely sluiced

The top layer leaving us a dismal gray

But we made a few bucks and beat the fire back

Flew like warriors in Bell Rangered wonder

Over undulating mysteries

To see the sea of trees saved for another season

A season we wouldn’t experience

But left to the iconoclasts and the lonely

Those who could drift no further

Yet could wield an axe and feed a stove

So when the leaves turned and frost arrived

We turned tail and went south

But a piece of my soul remains buried in the Klondike

Part of the motherlode of the riches of my life

David Trudel  ©  2013

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4 Comments

Filed under Poetry

4 responses to “North

  1. I can not say enough how much I enjoyed this! And the pic is too precious!!

  2. David, this is incredible. I know you have mentioned this cabin before, but this captures EVERYTHING. I’d carry it close to my chest, too, if not in it.

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