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Monday, December 28, 2020


by Pepper Trail

The enormous A68a iceberg which broke off from Antarctica in 2017 and has been drifting dangerously close to the island of South Georgia recently is starting to fall apart. New images from the RAF show how fragments of the once largest iceberg in the world are breaking away from the main bulk of the berg... Experts [are] growing concerned about the impact it could have on the island's unique biodiversity. —The Daily Mail (UK), December 24, 2020

From south of our imagination, the news:
There is a wild island of stone, South Georgia
Rough paradise of penguin and seal
And an equal island of ice, coded A68a
Broken from Antarctica, drifting free
Northward, the ice turns slow in the gyre
As if the wind and the salt currents
Sensing the land where the horizon bends
Shepherd the ice toward that meeting
Two giants so close-matched, sea-battered
On the rocky shore, the day approaches
When penguins and sea-elephants will see
What the albatross and the satellite know
The white wall coming to close off the world
The ice grinding to a halt against the stone
Perhaps there will remain a wave-churned strait
A path of escape into the abundant depths
Or perhaps the ice and stone will fuse
And a hundred thousand penguins
Denied the sea, will starve, day by day
There is nothing to be done
And even for those of us who know the Ice
Have walked with penguins to the water's edge
This makes no black mark, no blot
In the ledger of our responsibilities
Yes, the climate changed and the ice shelf cracked
But the blow I struck, it was the merest touch
The same for you, and for you, in our billions
All, light as feathers tumbling across a beach of bones
Then borne aloft on the eternal wind, and gone

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.