In a climate of frightening intensity,
a region defined by lack of temperature.
Islets rise like moles on the expanse of the silver-nitrate sea,
glaciers shaped like plateaus, fortresses, mountain ranges.
Palaces of ice drift by, flashing colors in the sun:
prisms of lavender, rose, chrysoprase green.
Inside, a scene from a Jack London novel:
A low, thin cot piled with fur, luxuriant
against the rusticity of the barren shack.
Damp books with rotten bindings and pages stiffened with rime.
The mottled patterns of maps paper the walls,
a spiderweb of constellations to steer by.
Clotheslines span the ceilings, ancient apparel left out to dry,
frozen thermals and soaked mittens encased in ice.
The odors of coal oil and dampened wool ceased to linger
a century ago. Weathered wood and rotting leather,
diamond-shaped snowshoes latticed with rawhide, and specimen
trays of stones and shells preserved in the icebox of the Arctic.
Heavy trunks with handsome brass fittings, their elegance
now tarnished. Inside, abandoned flotsam lies perfectly preserved:
tin cans and melted stalks of candles, the heavy, solid hulk of an
antique typewriter, and an elegant gramophone, its gleaming horn
fluted like a seashell. One hundred years ago, it played Strauss
to a curious audience of penguins who had never heard music before.
# # #
Jessica Goody was born and raised on Long Island. She currently lives in South Carolina, where she writes for SunSations Magazine. Her poetry collection Defense Mechanisms was released by Phosphene Publishing and is available on Amazon. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Reader’s Digest, The Seventh Wave, Event Horizon, Really System, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and The Maine Review. Her poem “Stockings” was awarded second place in the 2015 Reader’s Digest Poetry Competition.
Photo credit: Christina Salomon