In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • First Walk on Sea Ice, and: The Fossil Whale, and: Turnaround Day, and: The Blinds Must Be Closed by Dusk
  • Elizabeth Bradfield (bio)

First Walk on Sea Ice

Weeks watching the bow cut through what’s weak enough for not-quite-breaker us (hull Lloyd’s Register Ice Class notation 1A). Captain’s an old hand at reading leads, ran supply ships somewhere north of Europe in seas that gathered ice like a hoarder does newspapers: stacked, falling, becoming architecture. Now we’re bow-in. Wedged. Docked in a slip custom fit. How to disembark? No gangway lowered right to it for romantic arrival (unsafe). Lower boats to open water abaft of midships, shuttle the ten yards from side gate to landing. I stick the flags they give, pulled from their quiver & ring what should be safe to wander. How do I know?

  fluttered bordertracks of seals disappearing  over another edge

Pose under anchor, camera angled for illusion of heft, for max prow-loom. Run, flop angels, throw snowballs. Someone brings out a tennis set. Play on this nonland as we haven’t on the continent, sure our tracks will soon be gone.


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[End Page 19]

The Fossil Whale

Northbound Drake. Two sea days. Restless hum of homeward restuffing (guests), reset and gear up for the next (us). Lecture. Lecture. Boot & gear return. In secret, when roommate’s busy elsewhere, hold open clothbound red-ribbon-marked Moby-Dick from least-used ship library shelf (classics), hunch over digital recorder & read what’s assigned me: Chapter 104. Melville’s sentences roil strange, vast, intestinal. Background clang of waves against hull.

  Such, and so magnifying,is the virtue of a large and liberal theme!    We expand to its bulk.

First within voyage of firsts. Story within sea-borne story. We expand. Are changed by passage and place. I, too. Have scrawled on this ship, cracked the specked shell of job title to suck the rich, strange stuff that might become words shared. Thus this. Here.


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In 2011, writer Philip Hoare and artist Angela Cockayne created a digital version of the Moby-Dick Big Read. On the website www.mobydickbigread.com, each of Moby-Dick’s 135 chapters is read aloud by figures famous and unknown. Artistic responses accompany the recordings. The haiku is from Chapter 104 of Moby-Dick.

[End Page 20]

Turnaround Day

Farewell. In sun, rain, sun the staff lines out: gangway base to bus. Metal domed treads bounce under travel-day shoes descending, departing. Roller-bags (awkward) carried by stewards. We shake hands, kiss cheeks, or hug (farewell calculus of nationality, sex, fondness, formality, contagion). Then, free of tasks until three, cab it to the park with H.

Walk silent. Walk crass. Walk gossip & fast, alert to birds and hopeful for Magellanic woodpecker. Quicken at time check. Trail longer than. Us slower than. How far? All aboard when? Time pressed thin & painful as a breast for a mammogram. Bushwhack to road & thumb it. First car stops—rental with guests we’d just waved off, names already forgotten but faces familiar. They laugh, speed us back. Aboard. Re-uniformed. Embarkation. Hello. Hello. Begin again.

  somewhere ashorered crest batters a dead tree  in glad repetition

Cast off. Gather at stern to watch Ushuaia’s concrete & glass recede. High winds. Following sea. The port shut down after our departure. Rollers roll us east in nautical swagger.


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[End Page 21]

The Blinds Must Be Closed by Dusk

In for the night. Porthole a raven’s eye glinting back the lit lamp. Forgot before dinner to shade it. From bird’s eye, outside, this glass disc I look to & through appears a moon, which could but didn’t this time tempt petrel or prion, birds that rush from burrow to wave. Are moth-like toward light. Know the danger of transitions. But all the same and despite my forgetting once again no morning call to release a thing towel-wrapped & box-burrowed by A on night watch.

    illicit hope:a flumble to deck lights &  then, savior, I hold one

Nothing lured...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2327-8307
Print ISSN
0163-075X
Pages
pp. 19-22
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-02
Open Access
No
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