Clamming in Ninilchik

By Annie Shepherd for The Parisian Post.

A member of the Tliglit tribe, from the Eagle Clan, whose father was a priest of the Russian Orthodox church, is a temporary replacement while awaiting a new orthodox priest for the parish of Ninilchik, Alaska.  The history of the Orthodox Church of America began with the arrival of eight Russian Orthodox monks at Kodiak Island, Alaska, then part of Russian America, in 1794. The monks established a mission in Alaska, which was made a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church a few years after the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867.

Razor Clams

Razor clams here are the size of babys’ hands

opened up to catch the midnight sun.

They rush in with the tide and lie on sand

full and fleshy, their tumbling journey done.

Above, a Russian church, its golden dome

a kindly refuge for those who seek a home.

But eagles, ravens coast with eager eye

and clammers armed with spades and knives arrive –

the clams bury downwards as the shadows loom

of wings or claws, or the clammers spoon

a feast for those who have the craft to find

those rippled markings camouflaged like waves

in sand so fine, which cossets them like babes

babes of the sea who cry on land, exposed

under cliff and cloud, their little hands tight closed

while up above a Tlinglit* pastor’s hands

are closed in prayer for those who come to land

in Ninilchik, in Cook Inlet, across a glacial bay.

Ninilchik Russian Orthodox Church
Clammers on Ninilchik beach on Cook Inlet.


copyright © 2012 Annie Shepherd all rights reserved


Contact Annie Shepherd  for more of her published poetry, including  her collection “Jostled by Ghosts”.  Click here for a free pdf copy of her satirical poems written for The Parisian Post during the 2012 presidential elections.

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