The Glorious Invisibility of the Great Unknowns
Snowbound by vicious blizzard was I in a rockshore Labrador hamlet one night. When knock at door first misthought as ice propelled alongside woodcreaks of walls with sawdust insulate as wind did whistle through lightsocket airholes along a pitchblack road buried indistinguishable from drifts of snow.
[It was the Moldove!]
Tween furhood rim and scarved mouth and chin like some blue-eyed ferret raccoon peeping, peering in from lip of lair could be barely seen the first-thought Slovenian, arrived since late last week, who complained at an instant to me before sleet could be brushed from sleeve how these Inuit-English mix types would not let an anthropologist in so this took him to the window-framed solitary lamp some distance seen of the rectory of St. Timothy’s, who he felt though Orthodox not would yet surely perform a christlike miracle on this spot of sad beleaguered earth.
The woodstove was high up in heat having been straightaway stocked with cedar just before he came in, a stifling square of unpainted walls wooden, stained grey carpet, crisper than an Aleut Alaska banya, yet he didn’t take his coat off.
He had come like the so few of before by map, intrigued by hypotheses made recent that the Viking saga’s reported Markland was likely Hamilton Inlet, a long loch-like saltwater strip running from here to a place called Goose Bay, with smoothpebble shores dotted by trapper’s cabins below scantpine woods of ancient leantos, green mossrimmed lakes unnamed, and cold swamps of water the color of rootbeer with beaver fever stench like burnt sealmeat steaks in pan castiron along with fishoil dipped bannock deepfried.
“There’s a cargoe ferry comes here from Port-aux-Basque agoing on to Goose Bay come May. With this wind the weekly mailplane won’t be in for awhile. You can stay here if you like.” “You do not sound like you are from here,” he said.
“Oh. More like a Bonanza character.”
“Special Guest Star, in all the reruns.”
“Yea I’m an American.”
My smile made him suspicious.
“The people here, your group, do what you tell them to do.”
“I don’t tell them to do anything.”
“Yet none of them open their door to me in a storm.”
“Suspiciens creare suspicare” (said I in mock Latin).
“I don’t understand.”
“Latin. ‘The suspicious engender suspicion’.”
“Ciceronis. Would you like some coffee?”
By now the wind had subsided but briefly twice to bare thin halfpie slice bright moon then swiftly quickshroud behind racing greyblack clouds til blizzard rearose to reblanket by whish of ice crystals in coffeegroundlike waves of teeny dimlit diamondish, and what there was of bush or short tree scrub shrub all leafless brown were ground up drowned in white ubiquitous.
“I love this place” he said abruptly ear to ear grinning, then began to expand upon tale of how leaving the Baltic hid without food and water for three weeks in a cargoe container before
landing in St. John’s weak, pleading for asylum then given three grand so he rode ship Taverner north from St. Anthony toward Nain then dropped at this stop he thought for a day but the mighty white, red and black icebreaker shoved off the barren deserted dock of cooper’s shop and old net loft to head north out to sea leaving behind himself with no one, nothing else. “I’m free” he said “like freeze would be without zed.”
He crashed on my couch here chesterfield called in parka coat and highlace boots and at late twilit sunkissed dawn dimgray he seems to have fled from his own fargone homesick attempt down on the jagged boulder rockfrost shore’s one lane mud road leaving bootprints in snow turning left onto pier the only tracks there from him at its start to end which was also his own for never heard from again, nor seen, was he do tell among men.