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The Pegasus Prize, Winter 2011
Aly Goodwin
Captain Cook’s First Mate Speaks Aboard the Resolution, Antarctica, 1765
The months of darkness come, as they must.
The pack ice makes the ship shudder around us.
The setting sun takes with it everything good
from this bleak antipode. How awful to know
beneath the ice lie eight thousand feet of sea.
This place is no place and cares for no man.
A man said that a book must be an axe
for the frozen sea within us.
But what did he know? An axe does no good
against a frozen sea. No good.
Neither does a pick, nor a crosscut saw,
nor a man. The ice cares not what we know
and the months of darkness come as they must.
We behold the ice and the ice knows us not.

              Eight thousand feet of dark black sea.

Our captain plays the violin to entertain us and there’s
the cat, Charlotte, and our fellow shipmates, a mixed
blessing we must endure (dark hearts we can’t know.)
Where this will end, it’s impossible to know,
for we are at the mercy of the faceless sea.
What does it mean to be a man in a world
that doesn’t know men? The arcing sea carries us
where it must toward unknown lands
in the South Pacific, on orders from the admiralty,
heart of man moving toward heart of the sea.
It’s impossible to know where this will end.
The pack ice cares for no man.
Eight thousand feet of dark black sea

              and the frozen sea within us

©2011 Aly Goodwin