Veterans were acknowledged with the verbal suffix OAE
OAE: Old Antarctic Explorer
four or more
three seasons the average life cycle in McMurdo
before the pathogens
“Thank you for your application.”
“We wish you good luck …..”
Our boss had completed 10
“ no come to think of it 12.”
A real OAE
he said a problem thought of, would not become one.
At the arrival briefing he outlined
to the unfamiliar, the familiar
the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities
the traps and the trapdoors.
Been there done that. He had seen it all before.
But this one he hadn’t.
Mail was going out
but not coming in
almost a month of five flights per week
only a sprinkling cards and letters.
No one knew why
shrugged shoulders and upheld palms
from the postman, “shit happens man.”
After 10, no 12 seasons
uncharacteristically at a loss for explanation
unable to offer solace to one young charge
a first timer writing love, to his love
receiving nothing in return
wonders if she still does.
He is moved to easier duties
the boss good with these things
workmates told to look out for Charles
to ask about Susan – discreetly of course.
The monsoon arrives
cloudbursts of letters
equilibrium is restored – a sigh heaved.
Perhaps it was a challenge
young men hunters by nature
and here with so few women
a chance to be an alpha male.
At the end of a five-month season
Charles had spent three in a knowing bed
I wonder if he still wrote to Susan.
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