- Mountain Islands from Sitka Shores
There Grandfather lay, tubes and all. Face skin as wrinkled as the hospital sheets that cover him. Not saying a thing. Still, his eyes do. When I was small, before my first day of school, Grandfather took me to the Sitka bay just before dark night left. Take your clothes of ee'shan.The water waits. And there I stood, naked as the jellyfish that had washed up upon shore stones. And stones, cold beneath non-callused feet. The water waits ee'shan.I stepped into the Pacific up to my ankles. The under-rocks slick from algae, seaweed, and the occasional carcass of seal, King crab (and baby Blue crabs too) that had fallen off the boats of seasons. Go waist deep and kneel till waters neck high ee'shan. [End Page 116] The waters lapped sounds underneath my ears. My waist length hair danced small dances below the water surface. Twenty minutes, no less.After twelve my limbs became numb. Turn and watch the mountains.The sun came peeking through the trees atop our mountain islands. Thin straight multiple fingers of light came through the woods, across the sky, past where Grandfather had taken me fishing last spring. The sun came up, then over, revealing Grandfather sitting hunched upon a gray drift log on shore. Come you now ee'shan.Grandmother will have breakfast ready. I listen to his small round sounds of whistling air in lungs. Ee'shan, go home now. Catch me a halibut that I can brag to Grandmother about.So he leaves me sitting there with the smell of ammonia-coated floors and bleached bed covers.
Leonard Shotridge, Jr. is a Tlingit native from southeast Alaska. He graduated from Haskell Indian Nations University.