"Mendenhall"

Alaska Passages: 20 Voices from Above the 54th Parallel, edited by Susan Fox Rogers. Sasquatch Books, Seattle, Washington, 1996.

Excerpt:
   The day was overcast and shadowless. I caught my breath at the first sight of the glacier. The Mendenhall dominates an already dominating landscape of mountain, snow, and alpine meadow. It looms massively, its course surface muddied with rubble and rock, its face broken into giant shards of blue: navy, turquoise, pale aqua. Ice so compressed it absorbs all other colors.
   Every trip I make to Jueanu includes a visit to the Mendenhall, but this time the glacier was a detour, not a destination. In just a little while I would drive on to visit Dan, the first Alaskan friend I ever made. What would he look like, in these last months of his cancer? Would his face be hollow, like my friend Michael's had been, the skin pressed like tissue paper against the bones, his intelligent smile gone to jaw and gum and teeth? A skull, I had thought instantly, as though he were already dead, and then his eyes brightened, and I knew he was in there, alive, and I wanted to pull him out.

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