My first sonnet

at Portage Glacier

Alaska was always an eternal
word to me. empty, cold as an opal
ocean’s surface. and dad held the world in
his fingertips there. he could point and dim
horizons lit up with hot-air balloons
and floating glaciers turned into ice-blue
steamboats sculpted on a still lake. we walked
a lightly lapping shore and seeing all
the sites I thought we’d come to see, I bent
to scoop a piece of slush from the water
and in my small six-year-old fist I pressed
its freezing mass into a ball. after
my fingers numbed, dad said, “what you’re holding
in your hands is more than a million years old.”


I am a youth services librarian. I have 2 kids. I obsess about writing and about making things.


  1. On structure: I like picking a particular form and playing with it (aside from my miserable attempts at sestinas!). Having a line length, rhyme scheme, refrain, meter, etc. to “constrain” can force me to focus on precision of language — especially if I haven’t written in a while.

    On content: Love the last line, and it reminded me of the first time my father introduced me to the concept of “infinity” as a five or six year old. The idea of “no end” was more than my mind could handle — (what! you can keep adding one forever?)– and the thought that *I* would “live to be infinity” was actually quite scary. I remember asking him if God would let me sleep for a couple million years every once in a while to help break it up!

  2. I like how in parts of this “dad” could be a conversation with an earthly father or a heavenly one. Sorry, does that insert too much of a religious overtones onto your poem?

    The picture also helps me to really see those first two lines.

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