Tracy Arm

Our 50-foot boat rests silently amid the growlers, the ice-bits of glacier surrounding us, a siege of ice from which we silently wonder if we can escape. Grumbles and splashes as more ice calves, the herd around us steadily increasing. We must be a half-mile from the glacier, but its cold breath invades our senses, our fingers freezing on this August day, our hats pulled lower around our ears. 

The seals are unperturbed, hundreds of them resting peacefully on their respective chunks of ice, away from the dangerous whales who rarely venture here among all these solid bits that disrupt whale-navigation. Steve starts the boat and the glacier recedes in the distance as all hands navigate around ice and seals. Yes. It’s possible. Like the seals, we’re safe.


Water, falling in the footsteps of glacier-river parents, seeking, seeking, as fast as ice or water can flow, under gravity’s influence, seeking the sea. Our boat stops arm’s distance from the vertical rock wall and the tumble of spray. I semi-bathe in the freezing, noisy flow, wetting my hand, my hair, charmed by Captain Steve’s promise of youth, rejuvenation. But in fact, I’m bathing in a symbol of travel toward the embrace of the deep.

Giant black half-pipes of rock overflowing with gray fog-cloud. Floating ice—some glowing crystal, some a blue you just don’t expect to find in nature, a blue not reflected from pewter sky or sea-jade water. Crystal forms floating on the water, magical carvings—a throne guarded by lions, a vase, flower petals. Eternity is here—a solemn serene peace. And impermanence is here, everything rushing to the arms of mother sea. The blue glacier fades behind us and drapes itself in gray mists. 

Black rock rises above green water. Striated clouds lie in ribbons and shreds, the black gradually overtaken by the gray as we leave the fjord. Striated rock matches striated glacier, alike but for glacier’s quicker crumble into the sea. Cloud striations are horizontal; rock-ice striations vertical. 

Black mountains fade into their misty cocoons. And so we emerge, a family of Americans and Australians and Germans, united by this common experience, about to be divided, like the shreds of clouds were divided, back into our separate spaces.