Posing for the camera’s long exposure,
his right foot firmly on the sledge, in bone
numbing, heart contracting temperatures,
was perhaps what brought that look into Scott’s eyes.
And the eyes always have it: his say,
I do not want to be here. Maybe that’s
twenty-twenty hindsight since we know
how it ends, with all the heroes dead.
Once this seemed to me a simple tale
of jingoism, derring do, class and
sacrifice, a prequel to The Somme.
Now, it’s all about him. That look speaks
of the loneliness of leadership,
the courage of enduring duty.
He was the last to die; his log’s last entry,
‘For God’s sake look after our people!’;
the last he saw of the world the tent’s
beating canvas lashed by the howling wind.
Note: The poem was first published in A JAR OF STICKLEBACKS – http://www.armadillocentral.com/authors/david-selzer.