An Afternoon with Hieu

dylyn-petersonBY DYLYN PETERSON
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong

Hieu Minh Nguyen began his poetry reading at the Symposium with a request for every member of the audience to make their favorite animal noise. I missed out on what sound he made, but I went with “borf borf,” as is logical. He related to us the anxiety he felt flying into Alaska on election night as a queer Vietnamese man, saying he was happy to learn that Juneau is “an island of blue in a sea of red.” His performance was awesome. I made sure to buy a copy of his book after. In so doing, I heard that Kolene James was going to be showing him around town the following day, and asked if Serena and I could tag along.

The answer was yes.

We all met up at Gonzo’s in midafternoon, and packed into Kolene’s car. It’s a lot nicer than mine. We rode over to Auke Rec to go on a short walk to a point. Everything was too dry. The forest should’ve been blanketed in snow by now. But it was a nice walk. The wind had a wonderful conversation with the trees. A dog who was overjoyed to be alive repeatedly visited us for five seconds and ran away into the forest.

Kolene told us about the people who used to stand guard by climbing up the trees, and inform the village about whether any approaching travelers were friend or foe, and how the people in canoes had special drumming songs to indicate who they were. Serena explained that the reason one of the beaches was so clear of rocks compared to the one of the opposite side was due to slaves moving them, one by one.

Eventually, we made it to the point proper. Everybody took lots of pictures. I saw a seagull all by itself right at the tip, watching over the ocean atop a big rock. I had to say hello. Naturally, it flew away as soon as I was close. sigh

Everyone needed to use the bathroom, so we went to the ferry terminal. I was very excited to see a book I’ve wanted to read for a few years on the Friends of the Library shelf. It was missing the first thirty pages. We proceeded to get some snacks from De Harts. My eighties jam was playing on the radio. Hieu got some Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and I nodded in approval.

Next, we went to the Glacier. Our lovable block of ice was noticeably smaller than the last time I saw it. We walked as close as we could in a thirty-minute period. We almost got stuck in the mud and clay a couple of times. Serena taught us that this is the only place in the world where lines are carved into volcanic rock via glacier. We tried taking a shortcut back to the car, but the stone was too smooth to get good footing on.

Hieu really wanted some fish and chips for dinner. We pointed him in the direction of the Sandbar. Our adventure ended the way most of them seem to, with Serena and I deposited on the side of a road by a car that didn’t stop all the way.

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