Mid/Rats - ANTARCTICA 1973

Long shadows reach out from Erebus
and Observation Hill.
The bright sunlight sears into a burning bronze orb
as it rotates through another 12 hour stint at Willy Field.

In the diffused light the ice contrasts into
brilliant greens against the whiteness of snow hills,
that are tinged in blue

So much beauty here
at the bottom of the world.
The direction is unsure because
everywhere you point leads South
Unless you point at your feet.

It's midnight and I am hungry.

I look back from the Sound towards Mac-Town,
a muddy red volcanic smudge on the skyline.
But no tell-tale plume of diesel smoke is spotted
rising above the now sunken and sludgy glacier road
The Kiwi Express is nowhere to be seen.

I hunker more into my combat jacket
and both sides of my mouth are frozen into my beard
as the chill of the long shadow reaches me
this is as close as sunset ever gets.

Far out into the frozen reaches of the annual shelf
an Icebreaker goes about her business
maybe the Edisto or the Northwind?
we haven't seen her yet
but Dave Hazard the Loadmaster
reckons she's out there somewhere
clearing a path through the ice for the Sea Bees.

The "Ice Runway" should last another week they tell us,
but the seals and penguins
have become a daily problem
bouncing up out of hidden ice holes
and sleeping in the sun on the taxi-way.

The penguins (Emperors) aren't a problem,
they belly surf to 'hell and gone'
at the first sound of an inbound aircraft
but the seals MMMmmm.
Soft, sluggish and very oily and smelly.

There's so much harsh, rugged beauty here,
so much unexplored frontier and wilderness.
Almost every day a new Mountain Range is being discovered,
or climbed, or explored. Tourists would pay serious money
just to be standing where I am standing now
A real moment in history.

In two days time it will be "Camel Back"
and we'll celebrate the first half of the season completed
as well as the medal ceremony.
But right now it's midnight and I'm cold, tired and hungry

Where the fuck are our Mid/Rats?

©Copyright October 2003 by Mike Subritzky

Mid/Rats = an Antarcticanism for Midnight Rations