Elizabeth Bradfield

Mirror 1: Mac and I Reflect on Distances

I: Traffic


MacMillan brings back specimens, of course.

Proof and question both.  Brings examples

of the daily stuff native: garb and tools.


One year, he captures the first moving film

(rocks bending on a hill to feed)

of musk ox.




He thinks dentistry and church were good

additions.  Isn’t sure about the rifle.




Summers in camp: at last a bag of mail

full of the war, daughters affianced,

children’s firsts, other explorers. 


Within the week, every man in camp

is hacking, rubbing swollen eyes, snuffling

as wife, patron, brother did

above the page.




Scouting, hunting on ice they pass over

sunk Basque whalers, a Viking’s lost coin.

Red herrings.  The true reach here is west, nouns pulled

from Beringia’s high steppes, from Siberia.




Beside MacMillan’s machine, Ahlnayah

did her best for the wax cylinder. 

He wasn’t sure a woman’s voice

could fix itself there.  Still, she sang. 

He brought that back, too.



II:  Regarding the Absent Heat of Your Skin on Letters I Receive While at Sea


Paper wing       Words smudged

in your hand’s stroke       What

has been sealed       Torn mouth




And a shiver along

my lateral line, olfactory

lobe lit up


Breath on the paper

Wind on the water (& off it)

Breath from the water

And ill wind       Tear-salt


Fish near the surface, glinting

Plankton rising        forced


Scent of panic        (lung-must)

Petrels arrive because of      

Patter and feed


Your eyes on the horizon

are greedy, could eat

leagues       Call my name


Breeze       Wind       Gale

Let the air clock around your mouth


It pushes, unturned,

against your mouth


If you stand on the shore and call

I’ll know