365 Poems – 192 Six Months Alone At The Bottom Of The World (Rough First Draft)

This poem is about an American naval officer called Richard E Byrd who also specialised in polar exploration. In 1934  he set out to spend six months alone in Antarctica, operating a meteorological station. But he nearly died after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty stove.

I started my research on Byrd today, so my poem is mainly based on my own ideas of what it would have been like and what he would have went through, as his physical and mental health started to deteriorate. I intend to read his autobiography ‘Alone’ and after I have done so, I will work further on this piece.

Six Months Alone At The Bottom Of The World


I try to build up a yawn, but it’s

difficult. I can’t remember

where my mouth is.


Why did I want the Antarctic

winter night all to myself?


The light will burn me

when it comes back.


I almost forget the cold,

trying to re-locate

the hole in my face.


Outside, snow promises

things, but I come back indoors,

take my mits of the wrong hands.


I will wear light like a coat

when I get home. Here, I wear night

like an executioner’s hood.


I will push the fat scrapbook

under the bed. I have almost

forgotten her scent, her heat

that was once here, here

in this part of my chest.


Te flesh between my brain

and skin hurts. I’d like to

break my face apart and sort

out the mess between my

membrane and thoughts.


The pulse of the stars is deafening.


In America, I will go to my cabin

in the woods, where thistles grow

through the floorboards.


I will eat what I used to eat

and be calm in the lateness of the day,

because I know the way home.


I understand peace now, I understand quiet.

I’ve had enough, thank you, thank you.

But there is no release until spring.


Cold does strange things.

The stove does even stranger.