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.