Antarctica in winter –
something like a Jimmy Buffett song
money and booze, the divorced and the displaced
apathy and self-loathing. Indifference and spite.
200 people : two square miles.
Too many rules : too much futility.
Not enough work : not enough purpose.
Time for a drink – always. And another.
Compulsory screening : a kind of psychology SAT test
provides admission to the longest night.
Despite everybody being certifiably sane
strange behaviour is frequent.
Or perhaps not. What seems unnatural elsewhere,
is nature to many here.
Coexistence can be difficult,
confrontation easy. Very easy. Too easy – eyes front,
The earth turns from the northern sun
light appears, then aircraft.
A ticket home. No charge. One condition –
debrief with a second, different psychologist.
Part way through, a topic thought non – examinable
I’m asked about senior staff –
“ I … I …. I, ah ….”
a bedside voice said
food service workers occupy an observation post
often they were astute,
recording what some might prefer deleted.
The tone is certainty without boldness
a tranquiling blend of flattery and trust.
Intuition assures reluctance –
this profession is used to guarding confidence.
Tittle tattle is passed
of excess drinking, of inappropriate behaviour, of poor example.
A plea made on behalf of the civilian contract manager,
he has done his best,
a good man, who always looks for good in others.
The response is curt : “John has failed for precisely that reason,
he seeks good in everybody, but in many here, there is no good.”