At the bottom of the world
a prodigal continent.
Where the hemisphere is South
but everywhere is north.
On an island created by
the fist thrust of glacier
a settlement devoted to research
partly science, partly suburb of America.
A needy cocoon of almost civilisation
linked to an impressed world
by an umbilical of aviation – flight’s fragile path over savage ocean.
Any workplace with two or more players will feel the pull
of ego on hierarchy
and the pyramid of real or self appointed importance.
In Antarctica it was the pilots. Undisputed.
They provided fresh fruit and vegetables
mail, newspapers from home and
when the dream had tarnished
and limitations too apparent, a magic carpet out.
An organization struts or glides in tune with its leader.
One year a hard-bitten commanding officer
whose swaggering machismo strutted ahead
who always encouraged his self appointed elite
with benign interpretation of infraction.
She was very young
more attractive than pretty, trim and dark – pixie like.
On the final rung of the steep ladder of ascent
a girl in what until recently had been a boy’s only club
it didn’t matter – outcome was independent of gender
a big adventure in uniform before the real task
serious money in commercial airlines.
Then not so much a dropped ball as fumble
doubts about technique, soft, less than whisper but
too loud to be dismissed as not needing investigation.
The scrutiny of an enquiry and decision to fail.
A game deciding penalty as time calls finish. Irreversible.
Sometimes there is no window or back door…. only exit
this was known – everything else just procedure.
All that remained was the Commanding Officer’s signature.
The hard man softened. Iago became Hamlet
reluctant to body snatch a young person’s dream
launching an appeal futile even as it began
delaying the inevitable, stretching time until his own had expired.
It was the first task undertaken by his successor.