by | Oct 5, 2021 | Issue Twenty Three, Poetry

I nearly went to Svalbard. That was before the news feature

on the shot polar bear, the result of an ice safari. I was off

to a conference on darkness. I didn’t see the foxes on the

tundra, the aurora, or hear the paper on Verdi’s operas. I

didn’t buy a passport, told myself I didn’t have the budget,

I couldn’t afford it, ‘there’s no way you’re going to enjoy it.’

I was disappointed to read the Radisson Blue was booked,

when I knew there was no hovercraft involved. I explored

Google Maps: whether or not the venue was in the Arctic

Circle. I imagined my legs like tripods scrunching through

snow. I imagined mittens fused to my flesh, thumbs stuck,

my 4G useless. I began to picture the trip like a film with a

soundtrack featuring a theremin, scenes like a comic strip.           

It started with my visits to an anechoic chamber. I wanted

to hear my pulse in my brain, reach stars on my retina, get

as close to death as a sound lab allows. I was obsessed with

Orpheus. I was depressed: talk of Charon, placing an obol

on the tongue. I was drawn to thoughts of lyres, chthonic

trials. I wondered where in Norway I’d taxi. A plane crash

was my fantasy: not to arrive in body. I opted out, read up 

on polar bears, the ethics of carrying a rifle, & who should

be shot—you or me. ‘If it was me, I’d let myself be mauled,

struck in the temple.’ If I stayed my pain could play out like

an aeolian harp: a martyr through the insistence of my heart. 

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