January Open Mic

Thanks to Crow at Words and Feathers (click link to join in!) for hosting this terrific platform for sharing our creativity. Here is my contribution. It is rather bleak, but when I look out at the miserable day outside here, it seems very appropriate. The quality is down to my HP laptop and  Windows 10. I apologize for this.

Ice Men

A soul-compass, something inside—
(sane, or insane?)
drove them down
to the bottom of the world.

They would glide in their hard-hulled boats—Astrolabe,
Discovery, Endurance
until the ice locked them in.

Damned, on guano-beaches;
the sun (that infernal sun!) bleached their skin—
their lashes. The ashes of dead fires
told sad tales of meagre feasts.
Black and white sea-beasts broke the ice,
eager for their next meal.
Was it all real?

They waited: sheltered,
from the blowing wind,
and snow,
and sun,
under the belly of a life-boat—
surrounded by bloated seals, blood and after-birth,
squawking skua-survivors—
cold Hell.

Only the ghosts can tell us why they had to go;
how that drag, on the compass-needle could draw
them south to their destinies
or doom.

I wonder, do modern ice men
hear their voices in the gloom,
when they lie down
at night?

Kathleen Mortensen©2012

Not Enough …

Not enough sun
to thaw the ice
sticking to deck-timber.

Not enough sun
to melt the icing-sugar
dusting the clover.

Not enough sun
to warm the birds’ backs
enticing them to linger.

Not enough sun
to keep the iced stone bath
bearing only water.

Not enough sun
to heat my icy heart
this cold November.

Kathleen Mortensen©2016