Posted in Antarctica

Ward Round

The officer in charge was puzzled
said he didn’t understand
why people wanted to ski
“ when you’ve got the bar.”
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
and glide
and glide
the perfect surface
infinity’s ribbon
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.”

To learn more click backstage

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Author:

Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.

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