The Ice Ship
All night it is day. Glycerine shadows fuse sea and sky
into something indivisible. Hoar-frost and snow mingle with hail.
This is the end of the inhabitable world we are so far north.
Snow-clad mountains spit fire, icebergs drift
in a boiling swell piercing the pale sun in its net of frosty air .
We have been at sea for days.
Ice-cold, iron-cold, our lungs tense against the razor chill,
it could be the moon we are so distant from ourselves.
Dreaming and loving here are the same hunger
as we wander in watery exile, storm-beaten
by perishing winds. Ahead the glacial hull looms
spectral in the crushing heaves of pack-ice,
trapped like a fisherman’s float
in the mouth of a silver carp. Tattered sails,
fragments of mast, poke from their crystal coffin
like splintered whale-bone trepanning the empty heart of blue.
For thirteen years they have waited, penitent
as glass angels, black lips welded to alabaster tongues,
untold tales frost-bitten in their throats. Alone
at his log the Captain holds patient vigil
awaiting a huff of divine breath.
So far from home we glide directionless
beneath the bald sun
through cerulean ice-fields, past glacial slabs
too cold even for sea birds,
as grievous and exhausted
we give ourselves up to what we’ve become.
from The Remembering and Forgetting of Air (Salt, 2013), © Sue Hubbard 2013, used by permission of the author