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A Father's Tale
by Charles W. Pratt and Sharmagne Leland-St. John
I have stood at the edge of wilderness
and howled to the wolf pack
silhouetted by a full moon.
I've placed my open hand inside the track
of a grizzly sow's paw print
and felt the hair stand up on my neck.
I've hand fed the raven with compassion
and heard the flap of an eagle's wing as he flew over head.
I've passed my palm on the side of a running moose calf
and wondered what was chasing her.
I have seen king salmon swimming side by side
for thirty feet all the way across a clear water stream.
I've witnessed a hen salmon scoop a hole in sand
with flapping tail to deposit her eggs,
followed by a king salmon fertilizing them.
I've caught the scent of bear in bush
as I packed out boned moose,
blood running down my back,
and I 've fed the cross fox by hand;
pulled 20 inch rainbow trout
through an 8 inch hole in the ice
and chased grizzly, on an ATV,
that were 8 feet tall and so large
they had to waddle to walk.
I've chased away black bears
so I could dump the trash,
and walked my children to and from the bus stop
because a herd of 12 moose, was too close by.
I've witnessed cresting wildfires
moving 30 mph through the forest
tall trees bursting into flaming torches,
and witnessed volcanic eruptions.
I have seen and felt the ground move,
like the wave of the ocean rising 12 inches,
and open up then close during an earthquake.
I've experienced -60º Fahrenheit
with only a wood stove for warmth
I've hauled every drop of water a family of 4 wanted
for every possible need for 10 years.
I have had to kill to eat or not eat.
I've put out 2 different residential cabin fires
or face the Arctic weather with no shelter.
I've panned for gold and looked up to see
a black wolf watching me,
then have him run beside my truck for one half mile.
I have fished on a creek while a bear was fishing the other side
I lived in the Arctic for 27 years