The magazine After the Art asks essayists to blend writing about art – with writing about a text – with writing about personal experience.
In answer to this tri-part prompt, I link a painting by Yukon artist Jane Isakson – to an essay by William Least Heat-Moon – to fragments from childhood in Alaska.
The mountain doesn’t know you’re an expert.
This is how my family reminds each other that life alongside mountains must by necessity be humble. By necessity alert. The tear-shaped island in Alaska on which I grew up has steep, rainforested mountainsides. It has dark, rocky shores. And it has a two-lane bridge to the mainland, where the rest of town is a capital city busy with state politics but rimmed by an icefield so that no road links our community to any other community. Because of this, we have a special responsibility to take care of each other.
[…] Wherever I go, I am responsible to those who would risk everything to come to my rescue. My physical location, then, is always also an ethical one. Full essay in After the Art.