On South Georgia Island
Adrift in the tepid sunlight,
firebirds spark over tundra.
Looking down on Grytviken
from a modest height I wonder
how anyone could thrive amid
so much rust-colored wreckage.
The whaling station’s defunct,
church rarely used, museum
replete with placards and sighs.
From here I can see the cruise ship
with its vast expenses humming
to itself, safely at anchor.
Sweating in red parkas, fellow
voyagers roam the village.
No one lives here in winter,
the chatter of penguins forbidding,
the grave of Shackleton restless
with his vast unfinished business.
I creep down the bluff to examine
the industrial ruins and post
a postcard from the museum,
open only in summer months
when the sun refuses to set
and the penguins keep to themselves.
The firebirds glisten overhead.
They mock the many shipwrecks,
the whale oil refinery, the tanks
so empty that voices of the dead
echo in them. I’d like to hide
and let the cruise ship diesel off
without me. But the captain
wouldn’t leave anyone behind,
and would find and drag me back
to return to noisy places
still prominent on the map
where any fool can find them.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.