Elizabeth Bradfield

Roughnecks and Rakes One and All, the Poet Speaks to Her Subjects, Polar Explorers

I won’t write you that voice,

piggy, crass

forged by salt &

cold & isolation.

Filed to edge

by time-wrung,

absence-wrought rasping

or, if not those,

by what made you endure. 


I know we’re

bad luck on boats,

women, worse

on ice, too humid

for this hoar. 

And you hate my pen

tracking through

your stories.  But


I write you,

and that’s what love you get,

meted out, doled like rum.

Through line and vowel, my

voice chooses

yours, forced

by yours. 


I’d like to say

local deviations 

make this

true enough


for polar work,


that despite my distance

and the tendency of light

over ice toward mirage,

some shape comes through

that both of us

can recognize.