The officer in charge was puzzled
said he didn’t understand
why people wanted to ski
“ when you’ve got the bar.”
the military understood bars
had much history of drinking as recreation
the OIC a barroom champion himself.
We appealed to the captain
who said he couldn’t see the harm
said it was okay by him
if it was okay with the OIC at the airfield
a nod and a wink.
The OIC grumbled assent.
It was known as the Willy Road
a 7 mile snow highway
linking McMurdo town to Williams Airfield
graded and rolled to ice rink hard.
Cross country ski heaven
push with poles
shift onto edge
the perfect surface
friction so absent
concentration wasn’t…. until.
The duty doctor said the thumb was broken
reflex he said
protecting the head.
The nurse bustles comfort
“ lucky you…you’ll get to go home early.”
Three doctors, two very senior, arrive with urgency
“everybody out NOW!”
The nurse said it would be difficult
casting was at a delicate point.
Curtains are pulled
voices murmur rising to . . . . “zero eight fifteen.”
the echo of pen on clipboard unmistakable.
Three emerge peeling off latex gloves
“contact the CO
and inform next of kin.”
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