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By Timothy Murphy

Touch and go. Our Cessna bumped the sand,

       thumped its tundra tires,

       lifted as if on wires,

banked over ice and rocked its wings to land.


We pitched our camp hard by the Hubbard’s face,

       some sixty fathoms tall,

       a seven-mile-long wall

seven leagues from Yakutat, our base.


Crack! A blue serac tottered and gave.

       Stunned at the water’s edge,

       we fled our vantage ledge

like oyster catchers skittering from a wave.


Separation has become my fear.

       What was does not console,

       what is, is past control—

the disembodiment that looms so near.


Detachment? So an ice cliff by the sea

       calves with a seismic crash

       of bergy bits and brash,

choking a waterway with its debris.


We clear the neap tide beach of glacial wrack,

       pace and mark the ground,

       then wave the Cessna round.

Pilot, we bank on you to bear us back.


Source: Poetry (May 2009)

  • Nature
  • Religion

Poet Bio

Timothy Murphy
Poet Timothy Murphy was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, and graduated from Yale University, where he participated in the Scholar of the House program. He was a partner in a large-scale hog farm and a businessperson. His books include the poetry collections The Deed of Gift (1998), Very Far North (2002), Mortal Stakes • Faint Thunder (2011), and Hunter's Log (2011), as well as a memoir, Set the Ploughshare Deep: A Prairie Memoir (2000). He has also translated Beowulf. Though hunting and farming are essential subjects for his writing, myths and legends influence his work as well. He passed away in June 2018. 

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