In the Antarctic Circle

Poetry / Dennis James Sweeney

74°50′S 132°0′W

When we were kids, black plastic paved the walls.

We hunted darkness.

Hank fingered my hand in the exacting night.

Like creatures. Flashes.

We believed we had seen ghosts.

There was no history.

Antarctica was ten thousand white hairs.

That stood and shook—and when the sky flaked down on them, inched into our breathing beds.

65°16′S 103°6′E

First, the little toe. The big one next. Everything between, sufferance upon sufferance. Our pleasure shivers toward the cluttered sea.

My father told me once, while my mother shook her head: Tickling is nothing less than a gesture at the beyond. Do you hear that? God’s salesman knocking at the door!

Hank shrieks and kicks at me. I know what his body is saying: There are more empty spaces than there are ways to fill. But that’s an inborn fault. I don’t stop. We don’t have an uncle yet, and I’m not sorry.

Windows—we don’t even have those. I’ll stop when I can see the snow from inside the snow.

Dennis James Sweeney’s Antarctica poems have appeared in Birdfeast, Juked, Quarterly West, Passages North, and Poor Claudia, among others. He’s the Small Press Editor of Entropy, the recipient of a Fulbright grant to Malta, and the author of two chapbooks of poetry: THREATS and What They Took Away.