Memo from Antarctica

By Barbara Helfgott Hyett

Mornings he'd wake and call for me
and I'd come to his tent. It was
freezing I tell you. My boots were
fur and my coat was fur. I'd wear
my nightgown. Scott liked that
nightgown, cotton and long-sleeved.
I kept it on so he'd feel that cotton
against his nakedness and the shape
of me next to that. He'd have coats
on his cot, coats thrown over us,
and my hair was tied up in a ribbon,
if there was ribbon, which I think
there was not. I served under him. Oh,
yes. I was the south and the pole even
more south. Or was that Admiral
Byrd? I served under all of them,
alone as they were. Each of them
holding his sex in the morning,
before adventure and single-mindedness
overtook him. Before ice and ropes
and the shouts of men, he held himself
limply, whoever he was, longed
for the mirror of me.