(Painted as Voyage to Labrador by Alfred Wallis, 1935-6)
Pinnacles accompany steady
Course, the odd dry-docked
Whiteness with its blue-ice seams,
The odd growler knocking oxygen
Out of the hull as we steam luminous
Waters locked into night.

Sudden crash of calving mother
Itself calved from a Greenland glacier,
Rollover to drift haphazardly or
Just play random, notched at plimsoll,
Swelling headstrong below
Solid guesswork. You dreamt

Mantras and narratives
Of Arthur Gordon Pym, pole
Switching, high-risk passage,
Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness
Hemisphering a bloody swirl
In beckoning hydrodynamics;

Or the reactor at McMurdo
Shelling out its ‘atoms for peace’.
But north again and windward
Of shadows and their dark lien,
Nautilus under the sheets
Or on the skin of Greenland

At North Star Bay, a fallen
Warhead drilling down down
And vanishing. On the ship’s bent decks
Where perspective fails in fallout,
We hear a sailor’s call resound:
‘And the sun did shine so cold.’

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