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  • There is something about the cold dark in Alaska that invites a woman to drink too much and carouse with unsavory academics, who are numerous. Their numbers surpass the caribou, and if you go to Denali you can see them lining the highway with cameras more expensive than their cars.

    Their cars are all recycled Subarus with radios that don't work anymore.

    But to drink with an academic is a good thing. Their souls are prehensile in their efforts to make a woman feel special for who she is, not what she is. It's like rolling a wrestler on his back, being trashy in front of an academic. They want to turn their shoulders to you so you can put your jacket over them and comfort them and tell them everything's going to be alright. And when they buy you drinks they hold your shot extra long and ask if it's alright that they've bought you a drink, that you can buy a drink for them, next time, if you want. An academic once cried when I told him my story.

    Or was it his story, and me crying? These distinctions are hard to make in Alaska, where it's so dark sometimes it's hard to tell blue from yellow. The cold turns the body blue, and the air yellow. Every day I learn more about what it means to belong to a place more than I'll ever belong to another person. The academics hurt each other in the night, and then in the daytime examine each other's bruises. I want to be hurt by the sun again. I dream that I am burning alive, and crying, and holding hands with a man who is unable to turn away.

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