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Waterline

The tent city shrinks swiftly below us
As we sweep down the valley,
Chopping blades
Muted
By loud headphone melodies.

Below
A slow stream slides silently
Through mosses, lichens, and shrubs
Intersected by caribou trails.

Towering
Majestic mountains
Dwarf our craft with awesome, eerie forms;
Forms that impale the sky,
Bridge earth to heaven,
Whisper defiance to our meagre efforts.

Lawson and I stand alone, the chopper
Disappearing behind a glowing ridge,
Orange rays gleaming off the plastic bubble.

Up the slope—the rig
Below—the pump
Between, half a mile of black waterline
One length short of completing the link.

A frozen wafer of soil, sand, and ice
Crunches beneath our boots while we briskly
Haul another hose to join the diamond drill
And its umbilical source of water.

Lawson starts the pump
Gusher!
Frozen line!
We rush to replace the frozen hose before all freezes!

Too late!
Lawson is soaked,
So we hike to the rig
to thaw him first.

He's Cree indian, solid six foot two.
The blueorange glow of the torchhot rocks
Compliments the orchid plumage setting
Behind his head as he gradually
Paints his view of life,
Of a proud people
Once broken,
Once drunken, finding new life,
Of friends soaked up by the skid road sponge,
Of a nearly fatal seven day drunk
Saving his life, for dry ever since.

His bluetoned face glows against a darkened sky.
Bright stars twinkle in the crisp northern air.
An electric ribbon stretches across
The southern horizon. Mystical motion
Undulates through the heavens,
Touching,
Kissing the vast constellations above.

We are dry, so we continue our task:
Pulling the frozen pipe through diesel fires
Fruitlessly for hours 'neath Aurora's light;
Lugging a heavy tiger torch over
Ice glazed terrain; coiling stubborn hose
For hour after hour in the biting cold.

Tired,
Toes frozen,
We lay down to rest.

Aurora Borealis, Painting by Greg Dixon - Click for a larger imageThe sky is dancing with light and motion.
Fluid nebulae flow 'gainst Pisce's fins.
The arms of God stretch around to shake
The paw of Ursa Minor, and anoint Andromeda
With the water of fair Aquarius.
We are the microcentre of the infinite universe.

Alone
Against boundless space.
The cold becomes warm.
Sweet Sleep offers to warm us forever.

But we cannot sleep.
We must thaw the line.
We relight the torch and begin again.
The sun has nearly risen when we join
The final length,
At last the water flowing!

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