Octans

by Tim Jones


I was there when the Yamana
sailed south from Cape Horn
in their flimsy bark canoes
and found a world of ice

I was there when the Maori
dared the Southern Ocean
in twin totara logs
sailing from Te Waipounamu

There for Ross and de Gerlache
Bellingshausen and Borchgrevink

Nothing much to look at
Not shining like Polaris
But when they came to the South Pole
I was there

When Roald Amundsen
planted the flag of Norway
at his best guess at the Pole --
I was there

When Robert Falcon Scott
lay down for death to claim him
Somewhere high above the blizzard
I was there

There for Mawson and Shackleton
for Hillary and Byrd

Nothing much to look at
Not shining like Polaris
But when they came to the South Pole
I was there

Above the chattering of tourists
and the scientists' endeavours
Above the melting and the greening
I'll be there

When the sea level rises
and the ice turns into water
Or when a new ice age beckons
I'll be there

There for artist and astronomer
Protester and prospector

Nothing much to look at
Not shining like Polaris
But when they come to the South Pole
I'll be there


Copyright © 2003, Tim Jones
Octans, the Octant

Octans, the Octant
by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille


Tim Jones lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He divides his time between writing, being a husband and father, and content management work. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in magazines and anthologies in New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Australia, and Canada. His first collection of fiction, Extreme Weather Events, was published in 2001, and poetry collection Boat People followed in 2002. To find out more, please visit his website.

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Image courtesy of Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology