Cape Evans Hut, Winter 1911
They scour rank bodies with snow —
use bone-handled brushes, thick
with grime, to restore their teeth to
Apprehensive in high-backed chairs
they perch and shear each other’s heads
Pipe tobacco threads tight
the lofty necks of their pullovers.
On the Captain’s birthday
they eat seal soup, tinned asparagus —
red currant jelly enamels mutton like
Each man in his way is a treasure.
They are tired, nauseous, grateful
as they shave on Sundays;
their soap is Army & Navy catalogue issue.
They sleep in hammered bunks —
close as children — spines
and necks contort and joints
mortise and tenon neatly.
Outside, the wind a white fury,
the air is full of drift.