Cape Evans Hut, Winter 1911


They scour rank bodies with snow — 
use bone-handled brushes, thick 
with grime, to restore their teeth to 
polar white. 

Apprehensive in high-backed chairs 
they perch and shear each other’s heads 
hull bare. 
Pipe tobacco threads tight 
the lofty necks of their pullovers. 
On the Captain’s birthday 
they eat seal soup, tinned asparagus — 
red currant jelly enamels mutton like 
rime ice. 
Each man in his way is a treasure. 
They are tired, nauseous, grateful 
as they shave on Sundays; 
their soap is Army & Navy catalogue issue. 
They sleep in hammered bunks — 
close as children — spines 
and necks contort and joints 
mortise and tenon neatly. 
Outside, the wind a white fury, 
the air is full of drift. 


Rose Collins completed an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML in 2010. She has had short fiction published in Turbine and Sport and her poetry has appeared in the NZ Poetry Society’s anthology, Building a Time Machine (2012). She lives on Banks Peninsula. The quotation used in this poem is from Robert Falcon Scott’s diary, 18 January 1911.