It’s three in the morning on Svalbard Island.
There is no moon glowing overhead or stars
shining like beacons of hope—just a pearl blossom
midnight sun. I get up to do bear watch, aware
that the bear may be watching us too.
The solitude surrounds me like a silk snood
and the only noise is my fellow voyagers
sleeping in their functional green tents
and the sonorous crack
that signals another iceberg coming apart.
It sounds like a gigantic atomic yawn
as it splits and casts its small bergs out
into the azure horizon of the archipelago.
There is no human habitation—the ground
is arid and unforgiving—no flowers
or grass or song of a bird to lift us. The only
chorus is the inquisitive seals that pop up
and honk among each other, clearly commenting
about the visitors. This is no place for dreaming
but for being. The emerald green ocean surrounds
our camp on three sides, the other side is the steely
snow clad hill we scale tomorrow. I feel
like an interloper on the terrain of the ice bear
as she struggles to feed her cubs—drifting along
with a sad serenade in her great heart. And yet
I am at ease; I love the near silence and the glaucous
solitude—pierced though it is by the sadness
of some loss that I still cannot name.