Thursday, March 28, 2024

A Tribute to Cindy Abbott in Her First of 5 Iditarod Races

 Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was on the Senate Floor praising the bravery and courage of the mushers and their dogs who competed in the Iditarod which was won for the 6th time by Dallas Seavey despite being penalized 2 hours for not properly gutting a moose that attacked his dogs. She also praised the 4 women who finished in the top ten and the 7 women who finished in top 20. Stirring speech even though she left out Cindy Abbott, a sufferer of a rare eye disease, university professor, and climber of Mt. Everest who in has competed in 5 Iditarods but was scratched in her first attempt  due to a broken pelvis on the first day of the race but continued for 10 days before succumbing to the pain and hypothermia to be taken off the course and into a medical facility. I wrote the poem "A Woman's Place" as a tribute to her perseverance and courage.


A Woman’s Place

Time to toss the myth of members of the Golden State
As laid back surfers with waves and sun only to motivate
Go to Silicon Valley or here in the Tech Coast
To find hard work and creativity as a common host
Put to bed the myth of women as frail, not strong but only weak
Marathons, channel swims, trans Pac sails, mountain climbs, and even combat women seek
Add to that growing, grueling list, the Iditarod Race
Where dogs and humans are fused in a freezing 1000 mile embrace
Irvine’s Cindy Abbott should be a hero to all although maybe out of her mind
At 54, a mother and prof she enters the Last Great Race although half blind
With special gear to see at night, a lot of weight to top the sled scales
Maybe her children canines were already looking tired at start of trail
No vials of vaccine to spur her on to sick children near death’s bed
Only awareness of a rare disease that must not life’s spirit cause her to shed
Briefly near the top ten, only to slowly fade
Facing a never ending mushing up and down icy grades
Onward, onward, “can’t” is a word only for fools
A thousand miles of solitude where to find the finishing tools?
Global warming or a fluke but on slush her balance on the first day failed
Broken pelvis, hand swollen, no one but her dogs to hear her painful tale
Forced to on hands and knees her dogs to tend
A wrist so swollen it would barely bend
Bone pounding on bone with each step, yet she refused to quit
New meaning for the phrase chiseled into the Alaskan ice—True Grit
After 600 miles and close to 400 left to Nome
Dogs fading and her being chilled to her inner bones
Shivering and throbbing more each hour, losing the hypothermia race
With frostbite eagerly awaiting the chance to shape her face
“I have scaled Everest, mush on, mush on, as long as my “children” last
Must link awareness for my disease to the serum run’s lifesaving past”
Dreams die slowly, but reality 25 miles from Kaltag finally sank in.
After 24 hours resting on the Yukon, denial of pain no longer to spin
A race checker found her and her dogs almost totally spent
Scratched her from the course and to a clinic she was sent
Iditarod once again has lived up to its name—the Last Great Race
But in the halls of heroes this woman has earned her place
Broken pelvis, blind in one eye, mush on one checkpoint at a time
Shed from the vocabulary the word “can’t”, almost all goals you can climb
Pity those jihadists who women’s achievements block and belittle their brains
About as smart as racing the Iditarod in T-shirts and shorts with parkas to deign

© March 15, 2013 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet

No comments:

Post a Comment