a poem about belonging


Australian Antarctic Territory

You’ve come all this way for the Southern Lights

but they’re on strike again. Then someone says

let’s go see the snow petrel,

the cute white dove that bathes in the snow

of the continent of peace,

and on the way you wonder

if you could belong like the petrel.

But it’s far to these rocks

and you learn what cold can mean,

so you ask yourself

if you really need to see Antarctica

or just to know that it’s down here somewhere.

Then this bird that’s guarding its chick

spits hot yellow stuff in your face.

It stinks of fish and won’t come off

and you’ll wear this colour and smell

like an oily tattoo;

now you can say you belong here.

Published in The Galway Review

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