The Ice Navigators
A sailor’s language does not desert them.
They find themselves at sea again
and sense an ancient motion
in the frozen crests and troughs
of the mineral ocean.
The Owner talks of port and starboard
and thinks of the sledges as prows,
and the tethered men as figureheads.
The instruments of navigation
offer them solace; the daily plotting
is a matter of intense concern.
This is the narrow prosthesis
by which they communicate
and try to salvage something
from the sink of Antarctica.
Each feels as a weight his own ambition
— geological specimens
as remote as the Pleistocene.
It becomes so cold the emotions
freeze on their faces; they manage nothing
but the stoic rictus of the Antarctic
— the repeating, dependant grin.